G-7 meet likely to end with no joint statement

TOKYO • A Group of Seven (G-7) summit to be held this weekend in France will likely end without a joint communique due to gaps between member nations on trade, according to a Japanese government official with knowledge of the matter yesterday.

It would be the first time a G-7 summit ends without a communique since meetings began in 1975, underscoring the rift that United States President Donald Trump's "America First" trade policies have created among the G-7 advanced economies.

"It's crucial for everyone to create a common understanding through thorough debate. But it's hard to deliver messages to the rest of the world when a communique isn't going to be issued," the official said, confirming an earlier report by Japan's public broadcaster NHK that there was no plan so far to issue a communique after the G-7 leaders' meeting.

"There's no doubt the G-7 will discuss the impact trade frictions could have on the global economy," the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The summit, to be held in the south-western French city of Biarritz from Aug 24 to 26, comes at a time when the US-China trade war and volatile financial markets are putting pressure on policymakers to step up efforts to avert a global recession.

Finding common ground between allies has become increasingly tough at the annual summit with the US, an outlier in its approach to handling disputes over trade and the environment.

Last year, Mr Trump threw the G-7's efforts to show a united front into disorder by leaving early and backing out of a joint communique.

France, as this year's G-7 chair, is keen to make progress on a global debate on universal taxation on digital giants. But the leaders are unlikely to break new ground at the summit.

France, as this year's G-7 chair, is keen to make progress on a global debate on universal taxation on digital giants. But the leaders are unlikely to break new ground at the summit, the official added.

The G-7 comprises the US, France, Britain, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'G-7 meet likely to end with no joint statement'. Print Edition | Subscribe