Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a G7 session in the Sicilian town of Taormina, Italy, Saturday, May 27, 2017. Leaders of the G7 meet Friday and Saturday, including newcomers Emmanuel Macron of France and Theresa May of Britain in an effort to forge a new dynamic after a year of global political turmoil amid a rise in nationalism. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

G7 leaders agree to fight protectionism

TAORMINA, Italy — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came out of the G7 summit Saturday calling it a success, even though the United States did not commit to the Paris climate accord.

“Obviously, any new administration or any new government is going to have its own approach and its own priorities,” Trudeau told reporters. “I think the value of the G7 is we do get to have honest and robust exchanges and talk about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there together.”

The six-page final communique from the summit says six of the leaders, including Canada, agreed to stand by their commitment to implement the Paris Agreement.

“We respect President Trump’s choice to reflect further on their engagements around climate change and the Paris accord,” Trudeau said. “But what I made very, very clear … is that you cannot build a strong economic future for your citizens, for your country unless you are at the same time protecting and mindful of the environment.”

The communique notes that the Americans are “not in a position to join consensus” on climate change. Shortly before the communique came out, Trump issued a tweet saying he would make his “final decision” on the Paris Agreement next week.

The G7 leaders have agreed to keep fighting protectionism, a win for the six countries that had been pushing Trump to come around to their view of free trade.

The leaders acknowledged Trump’s stance on trade and the communique includes a statement that the leaders will keep markets open, but ”stand firm against all unfair trade practices.”

“We commit to adopting appropriate policies so that all firms and citizens can make the most of opportunities offered by the global economy,” it says.

Trudeau and Trump also met for an informal chat on the sidelines of the summit.

Trudeau told reporters that he and Trump have reaffirmed their commitment to the deep economic relationship between Canada and the U.S.

“There’s always opportunities to do more on trade, always opportunities to improve on trade deals,” Trudeau said. ”We certainly agreed that the benefits this relationship over time and into the future in creating good jobs, in creating economic growth on both sides of the boarder needs to be focused on and maintained.”

The rules of the NAFTA countdown mean Trudeau and Trump cannot talk about specific issues that would be subject to negotiations, even though they did talk about Canada-U.S. trade, including softwood lumber.

A Canadian government official who spoke to reporters about the 30-minute conversation between Trump and Trudeau on the condition of anonymity said that while the two leaders also spoke about international security, they did not discuss intelligence-sharing.

G7 leaders also found agreement on other points, such as backing closer co-operation against terrorism after the concert bombing Monday in Manchester that killed 22 people.

“We call upon all countries of the region to play a constructive role by contributing to efforts to achieve inclusive political solutions, reconciliation and peace, which are the only way to eradicate ISIL, other terrorist groups and violent extremism in the long-term in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and beyond,” the communique says.

Trudeau also went into the talks championing the benefits inclusive growth and gender equality, which are expected to be the main themes of the G7 summit that Canada is hosting in the Charlevoix region of Quebec next year.

Canada played a leadership role in pushing for the communique to include the language on fighting protectionism, the Paris Agreement, and in particular for the reference to gender equality being “fundamental to the fulfillment of human rights,” according to a federal government source.

The G7 is an informal gathering that meets every year under a rotating chairmanship. Its decisions are not binding as an international treaty would be, simply representing the leaders’ political commitment to carry through.

The G7 countries are Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, the United States and the UK. The European Union also attends.

The Canadian Press

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