Hope for breakthroughs on Iran, global trade at G7 summit

As Trump hails ‘truly successful’ G7, here’s a look at what leaders achieved on some of the world’s most pressing issues

U.S. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a work session during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, August 26, 2019. Ian Langsdon/Pool vi

The G7 summit in France took place amid sharp differences between the United States and its allies on a range of global issues, including trade, climate change and Iran‘s nuclear programme.

The summit in France’s coastal town of Biarritz wrapped up on Monday with US President Donald Trump hailing the “tremendous unity” between himself and the leaders of France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada.

“It was a truly successful G7,” he said, standing alongside France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who hosted this year’s gathering. 

But just how much did the leaders of the seven advanced economies achieve in their three days of talks?

Here’s a look at the outcomes on some of the issues discussed at the summit: 


The standoff between the US and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme was a major focus of this year’s summit.

Macron, who has led the push to ease the tensions triggered by Washington’s decision to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, delivered a diplomatic breakthrough at the summit’s conclusion. 

The “conditions for a meeting” between Trump and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani “in the next few weeks” had been created, the French leader announced. 

Trump said he was open to such a meeting.

“If the circumstances were correct, I would certainly agree to that,” he said. 

The overtures came after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif paid a surprise visit to the gathering at France’s invitation on Sunday. He did not meet Trump but held talks with Macron, as well as British and German officials. 

Zarif - Biarritz
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks with Macron at the sidelines of the G7 summit [Javad Zarif’s official Twitter account / AFP]

Trump and Rouhani head to the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Read more here

US-China trade war

The summit took place amid fears that an escalating trade war between the US and China could tip the slowing world economy into recession.

On Monday, Trump held out an olive branch, heaping praise on China’s President Xi Jinping and saying negotiations would resume “very soon” on ending the year-long dispute, which has seen tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods by both sides.  

Chinese officials had been in contact overnight, he said.

“China has taken a very large hit in the last few months. Three million jobs. It will soon be much more than 3 million jobs. Their chain is breaking up like no one has seen before. Once that happens it is very hard to put it back together. I think they very much want to make a deal.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke on the subject: “I hope there will be good results from US-China trade negotiations that will help stabilise the global economy.”

Earlier on Monday, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who has been leading the talks with Washington, said China was willing to resolve the trade dispute through “calm” negotiations and opposed any increase in trade tensions.

Read more here.

Amazon fires 

The G7 pledge to spend more than $20m on fighting fires tearing through the Amazon rainforest was a point of “convergence” for the group’s leaders. 

The agreement was made at a meeting on climate change that Trump did not attend, but Macron said the US supported the initiative. 

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro denounced the plan, however, saying it treated his country like “a colony or a no-man’s land”. 

Read more here.


The G7 summit was Boris Johnson‘s first foray into global diplomacy as Britain’s new prime minister and came amid an impasse between London and the European Union over its impending departure from the 28-nation bloc.  


He said he was “marginally more optimistic” about the chances of clinching a divorce deal by the October 31 exit deadline, but acknowledged it would be difficult. 

The EU has so far rejected negotiating a new deal, which was approved by the British government under Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, but repeatedly rejected by the country’s parliament.

“Europe is very much unified in its representation here,” said Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We will have some work to do in the autumn on Britain’s exit. So we face some busy weeks ahead.”

Before the summit, Johnson and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk had traded barbs over who would be known as “Mr No-Deal” if Britain crashed out of the EU without an agreement. 

He later found a more congenial partner in Trump, who promised a “very big trade deal” with post-Brexit Britain.

Bringing Russia back

There was no agreement on whether Russia should be readmitted to what used to be the G8.

But Trump said he was inclined to invite Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to next year’s summit in the US, saying it was better to have Moscow “in the tent” rather than “outside the tent”.

Moscow was excluded from the group in 2014 after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea and then backed an anti-Kiev rebellion in the industrial region of Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

Macron said there was no consensus on Trump’s proposal.

He did announce a meeting next month on the Ukraine conflict with the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.

Digital taxes

Trade tensions between France and the US over Paris’ taxation of tech giants was eased. 

Macron said G7 nations reached “a very good deal” on the issue. 

He said France would scrap its own digital tax once a new international levy being discussed among 134 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries was in place. Paris would refund the difference if its national tax turns out to be higher, he added. 

Trump, who had warned he would impose retaliatory tariffs on French wines, was noncomittal when asked if he would rescind the threat.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies