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G-7 nations seek ways to make growth help more people

15 May 2017

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.

G7 members have said they want a better sense of the plans of US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to upset the global consensus of recent decades on issues such as trade and rules for the financial services industry.

Mnuchin had said that worldwide 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 global trade as the existing worldwide consensus is perceived as crumbling without the active support of the world's largest economy.

Under pressure from the Trump administration, finance chiefs from the Group of 20 major economies - which include all the G-7 nations - dropped their traditional pledge to "resist all forms of protectionism" from a communique issued after their meeting in March in Germany.

After the meeting, officials from Japan and member European countries remained concerned about the economic shift in Washington, particularly after Mnuchin said the USA reserved the right to be protectionist if it thought trade was not free or fair. But Mnuchin said trade was discussed "a lot" and his counterparts have become "more comfortable" with the administration's agenda. -Canada trade relationship is to both economies.

Attention also focused on Trump's plans to cut US corporate taxes.

A senior Japanese Finance Ministry official said pro-EU Emmanuel Macron's victory in the French presidential election injected optimism into G-7 discussions on the world economy and financial markets.

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However, the G7 promised to step up their work to try to prevent repetitions of the assault which leveraged hacking tools believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency, infecting tens of thousands of computers.

Mnuchin said "this is a big priority for the president". But he offered little detail.

Subsequently, during an interview about Trump's economic policies and how they might impact income inequality, he said, "I don't think any of it is good". The European Union also attends the informal forum.

They also called for a renewed common effort against cybercrime.

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

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 past year to avoid protectionism in all its forms.

The Italian delegation, which is responsible for all of this year's G7 meetings including a summit of global leaders in Sicily in May, had sought to avoid a repeat of the scrap that broke out between the U.S. delegation and everyone else in the room - bar Japan - at the G20 meeting held between finance ministers and central bank governors in Baden-Baden in March.