Macron, Trump hail common ground found by G-7 leaders

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, after a joint press conference at the end of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, yesterday. The G-7 leaders have agreed to release more than US$20 million (S$27.8 million) of emergency a
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, after a joint press conference at the end of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, yesterday. The G-7 leaders have agreed to release more than US$20 million (S$27.8 million) of emergency aid to help countries battle wildfires in the Amazon rainforest.PHOTO: REUTERS

They say positive steps were made at summit dominated by issues such as Iran nuclear crisis

BIARRITZ • French President Emmanuel Macron and US leader Donald Trump have hailed the common ground found by G-7 leaders at their summit, which was dominated by the Iranian nuclear crisis, trade, digital tax and fires in the Amazon.

"We have managed to find real points of convergence, unprecedented, very positive, that will allow us to go forward in a very useful way," Mr Macron said yesterday at a press conference alongside President Trump at the end of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Biarritz, south-western France.

Mr Trump said Mr Macron had done a "fantastic job" at the summit, whose member countries comprise France, the United States, Italy, Canada, Germany, Japan and Britain.

"This was a very special, a very unified 2 ½ days and I want to thank you," Mr Trump told his host.

Mr Macron and Mr Trump, who at times have had stormy relations over the last two years, ended the press conference with two bouts of handshaking and hugging.

Mr Macron acknowledged there had been "nervousness" ahead of the summit amid tensions between the US and Europe on a host of issues.

France and the US have reached a deal to end a stand-off over a French tax on big Internet companies.

Mr Trump had threatened to hit back with tariff action after France passed a law earlier this year that would impose a 3 per cent tax on revenues earned on digital services in France.

  • Changes of tone in 4 days

  • AUG 23


    China was forced to take countermeasures.

    CHINA'S FINANCE MINISTRY, blaming US President Donald Trump for escalating trade frictions, after Beijing announced tariff hikes on US imports.


    Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies home and making your products in the USA.

    MR TRUMP, writing on Twitter. He later threatened to raise tariffs on Chinese goods.

    AUG 24


    Tariffs are working out very well for us. People don't understand that yet.

    MR TRUMP, in response to his tweet about fighting back against China with US tariffs.


    The Chinese side strongly urges the US side not to misjudge the situation, not to underestimate the determination of the Chinese people, and immediately stop its mistaken actions, otherwise all consequences will be borne by the US.


    AUG 25


    I have no plan right now. Actually, we're getting along very well with China right now. We're talking.

    MR TRUMP, referring to his threat of ordering companies out of China by calling a national emergency.

    I have second thoughts about everything.

    MR TRUMP, to reporters, appearing to soften his bellicose tone when asked if he had second thoughts about escalating the trade conflict.

    His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.

    THE WHITE HOUSE, clarifying hours later, after Mr Trump's earlier remark drew worldwide headlines as he rarely doubts himself in hindsight.

    AUG 26


    We are willing to resolve the issue through consultations and cooperation in a calm attitude and resolutely oppose the escalation of the trade war.

    CHINA'S VICE-PREMIER LIU HE, according to a report by Chinese news outlet Caixin.


    China called last night and said let's get back to the table. So we'll be getting back to the table.

    MR TRUMP, speaking to reporters. His claim has not been confirmed by China.

The French Parliament passed its new levy last month amid frustration at the slow pace of negotiations to reach a global accord to ensure technology multinationals such as Facebook and Google pay a larger share of taxes on their operations. The French move drew accusations of discrimination by Google, Amazon and Facebook, along with Apple, the so-called GAFA companies.

But Mr Macron told reporters yesterday that companies that pay the tax would be able to deduct the amount once a new international deal on how to tax Internet companies is found next year.

"We've done a lot of work on the bilateral basis, we have a deal to overcome the difficulties between us," Mr Macron said, alongside Mr Trump.

The French President, who was also seeking to broker a deal between Iran and the US, invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks on Sunday.

Mr Zarif met Mr Macron, as well as other European diplomats, although Mr Trump said it was "too soon" for him to meet Mr Zarif.

Mr Trump said, however, that he was not seeking regime change in Teheran - a change of tone that could lower tensions.

He told reporters at the summit he wanted to see "a really good Iran, really strong, we're not looking for regime change".

At the joint conference with Mr Macron later yesterday, Mr Trump said he was prepared to meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in the next few weeks.

"If the circumstances were correct, I would certainly agree to that," Mr Trump said.

The US leader yesterday also offered an olive branch to China after days of intense feuding over trade that has spooked financial markets.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday that stable relations between the US and China are "very important" for the global economy. "I hope there will be good results from US-China trade negotiations that will help stabilise the global economy," Mr Abe told a news conference after the G-7 summit. "We will guide economic policy with an eye on the impact (the US-China trade tensions) could have on Japan's economy."

G-7 leaders also agreed to release more than US$20 million (S$27.8 million) of emergency aid to help countries battle wildfires in the Amazon rainforest.

Mr Trump also said he wants to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to next year's G-7 summit because having the country "in the room is better than having them outside".

"My inclination is to say, 'Yes, they should be in,'" Mr Trump said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2019, with the headline 'Macron, Trump hail common ground found by G-7 leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe