G7 countries agree to a joint, ‘ambitious’ communique in Charlevoix: Trudeau

LA MALBAIE, Que. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Group of Seven countries have agreed to a joint communique at the conclusion of the alliance’s leaders’ summit in Quebec, with all countries signing on to everything except a pact to clean up oceans.

Speaking at his closing news conference Saturday, Trudeau said the G7 has agreed to an “ambitious” communique — but he did not immediately release a document or provide details of where the exclusive club of wealthy democracies found common ground.

Heading into the leaders’ summit in the town of La Malbaie, there were deep concerns the G7 alliance was fast becoming a G6 plus one because of a widening gulf between the U.S. and the rest of the group in key areas such as climate and trade.

But the group managed to find some compromise language on trade.

“We underline the crucial role of a rules-based international trading system and continue to fight protectionism. We note the importance of bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements being open, transparent, inclusive and WTO-consistent, and commit to working to ensure they complement the multilateral trade agreements. We commit to modernize the WTO to make it more fair as soon as possible,” the communique stated, according to a copy obtained by The Canadian Press.

Still, Trump left a trail of protectionist sentiment in his wake, with many comments attacking the trade practices of the other G7 countries and a few extra jabs on Twitter as he flew away.

“If the expectation was that a weekend in beautiful Charlevoix…was going to transform the president’s outlook on trade and the world, then we didn’t quite reach that bar,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said five of the G7 countries agreed to a plastics charter to further protect the environment and oceans. Canadian officials explained that the United States and Japan did not sign on because they did not want to commit to firm targets to reduce plastics.

But all seven countries agreed to a joint statement on artificial intelligence, global trade, middle class growth, innovation, girls’ education, and defending democracies from foreign intrusions, officials said.

“We are committed to take concrete action to defend our democratic systems from foreign threats and take co-ordinated action to identify and hold to account those who would do us harm,” Trudeau said.

The decision to issue a separate declaration on oceans came at the very last minute, as Trudeau was addressing media.

Trudeau noted how, earlier in the day, G7 countries announced they had raised more than $3.8 billion in an effort with other countries to send the world’s poorest girls to school.

“This is what a G7 is supposed to be about — all of us pulling together and doing things that matter for our citizens and for the world,” Trudeau said.

“And on that, this was certainly a success.”

U.S. President Donald Trump angered his G7 allies last week by slapping them with hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum — a move that prompted Canada and the European Union to threaten duties of their own.

Trudeau acknowledged that G7 leaders left La Malbaie without significantly transforming Trump’s approach to trade.

“There are always other things we can work on,” Trudeau said.

“It’s true, we didn’t fix all of the planet’s problems this weekend in Charlevoix. But we moved things forward in a significant way to build a consensus around many big issues that we were called on to address together….

“The president will continue to say what he says at various occasions. What we did this weekend, was come together, roll up our sleeves and figure out consensus language that we could all agree to on a broad range of issues.”

Trump also raised eyebrows by urging the G7 to once again become a G8 by bringing Russia back into the fold and for criticizing his allies, including Canada, for what he called unfair trade barriers.

Trudeau stated firmly that he had no desire to see Russia readmitted to the G7 at this time.

The G7 said it planned to take action against Russian election meddling in Western countries.

“We are committed to take concrete action to defend our democratic systems from foreign threats and take co-ordinated action to identify and hold to account those who would do us harm,” Trudeau said.

But Trudeau pointed to firm commitments from some members of the G7 to promote cleaner oceans and fund better access to education for girls in poor countries.

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