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Trade, tech and Amazon fires: What's been discussed so far at the G7 Summit in France

The three-day summit will conclude later today.

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and US President Donald Trump (right) at the G7 Summit in France.
French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and US President Donald Trump (right) at the G7 Summit in France.
Image: Andrew Harnik

THE G7 SUMMIT is wrapping up later today after a weekend of talks dominated by US trade policies and a surprise visit from Iran’s Foreign Minister. 

The Group of Seven (G7) summit was hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in the French Atlantic resort of Biarritz. 

Today, the leaders of the seven countries taking part – the US, France, the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy – will be holding several meetings on climate change and how digitalisation is transforming the world, among other issues.

Over the weekend, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gathered attention after he was invited to the talks by French officials with the hopes of securing a breakthrough in global tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme. 

US President Donald Trump said he was aware that the minister would be visiting the conference. But he said earlier today that it was too soon to meet Zarif, and he also said that Washington wasn’t looking for a regime change in Iran.

Iran’s economy has been impacted by US sanctions imposed since last year after Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and several countries.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani came out strongly in favour of talks between the foreign minister and other countries earlier today. 

“If I knew that I was going to have a meeting with someone that would [lead to] prosperity for my country and people’s problems would be resolved, I would not hesitate,” said Rouhani. 

Amazon fires

Earlier today, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged £10 million to help restore the Amazon rainforest after rampant fires have spread causing worldwide concern.

“In a week where we have all watched, horrified, as the Amazon rainforest burns before our eyes, we cannot escape the reality of the damage we are inflicting on the natural world,” Johnson said in a statement.

The money is said to be being made available immediately. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany and other countries will talk with Brazil about reforestation in the Amazon once fires there have been extinguished.

French President Macron has said that the leaders of the seven countries involved are nearing an agreement on how to help fight the Amazon fires and repair the damage caused in the world’s largest tropical rainforest. 

He said the agreement would involve technical and financial mechanisms. 

Protesters against the summit staged a protest in southwestern France yesterday, where people held portraits of Macron upside down in a critique on his politics. 

Demonstrators at this march were carrying allegedly stolen official portraits of the French president which had been removed from town halls across the country in recent months. 

The climate and social justice march was organised by an environmental activist group along with two Basque groups. They used a slogan to ‘take down Macron’. 

US trade

Many of the discussions over the weekend focused on US trade with other countries. 

On Sunday, a trade deal was agreed in principle between the US President Donald Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

Donald Trump said today that US and Chinese trade negotiations would shortly resume. The US President described this as a breakthrough in the two economic superpowers’ trade war. 

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“China called last night…, said let’s get back to the table. So we’ll be getting back to the table,” Trump told reporters at the summit. 

He added that Chinese officials had made two “very, very good calls” and that they allegedly want to make a deal.

The US and China continue to be involved in a trade war as both countries raise tariffs on goods. Last Friday, Trump increased taxes on all Chinese imports after Beijing hiked its own levies. 

So far today, French officials have said the US and France are nearing a possible deal on taxing large companies after progress was made at a dinner last night. 

The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire wanted to ease US concerns over a 3% French tax on online companies that make a large amount of revenue in France.

Le Maire has insisted that the tax doesn’t target American companies. It focuses on large companies like Google, Amazon and Uber along with companies from France and China.

The companies may be headquartered in other countries, but do billions in digital business in France through advertising and retail. France promises to get rid of this tax if an international digital tax deal can be reached. 

In response, the Trump administration threatened retaliatory tariffs on French wine. 

Asked about the wine tariffs today, Trump said “it depends on the deal we work out on the digital tax,” which “we’re negotiating right now.” 

 - With reporting from Associated Press and © – AFP 2019

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