G7 Finance Ministers Meet In Italy

European G7 officials complain that no-one knows what the U.S. means by "fair trade" and that the only way to establish fairness was by sticking to the rules of the World Trade Organisation - a multilateral framework.

The meeting drew finance ministers and central bank governors from the world's seven most developed economies in the southern Italian city of Bari from Thursday to Saturday.

Mnuchin had said that global trade should be "fair" and "reciprocal" during the G20 meeting in March, and his refusal to change his stance on the matter during this most recent G7 meeting stirs greater uncertainty in worldwide trade as the existing global consensus is perceived as crumbling without the active support of the world's largest economy.

But unlike a G7 leaders' communiqué of 2016, the Bari meeting did not endorse free trade and reject protectionism, reflecting pressure from the United States where President Donald Trump has signaled his skepticism about free trade deals.

BARI, Italy (AP) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says major trading partners "are much more comfortable" with the Trump administration's trade policies and understand U.S. growth will benefit them. However, the U.S. Treasury spokesman said the issue was likely to come up in bilateral talks.

In the final communique, the ministers and governors only mentioned that they were "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies".

The Italian G7 presidency has listed security as a "global public good" - including issues related to anti-terrorism financing, remittances and cyber security - and one of its four finance priorities.

Officials also warned that long-term economic growth could remain subdued and that steps need to be taken to make the global economy work for everyone.

G7 finance ministers turned their focus Saturday to combating cyber crime in what Italy's Pier Carlo Padoan described as an "unfortunately very timely" discussion.

While noting "global recovery is gaining momentum", the communique said the world economy is facing "high and rising inequalities, notably within many countries and affecting in particular middle and lower income earners".

They also called for a renewed common effort against cybercrime.

He said the Trump administration's economic policies aren't directly aimed at pursuing policies that would restrict trade, but rather are meant to spur USA growth and aid the global economy.

The G-7 is composed of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S.

The gathering paved the way for a meeting of national leaders in Taormina, Sicily, on May 26-27.

A Group of Seven communique issued on Saturday said officials were "working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies" - a weaker pledge than the statement from the Group of 20 leaders a year ago to avoid protectionism in all its forms.

  • Zachary Reyes