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Here's what you need to remember from the G7 summit in Biarritz

Here's what you need to remember from the G7 summit in Biarritz
Copyright  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Pool
Copyright  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Pool
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros
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Emergency aid fund for Amazon wildfires, surprise visit by Iranian foreign minister, here are the key things you need to remember from this weekend's G7 summit.


As the Group of Seven (G7) summit ended in Biarritz on Monday with a final press conference by French President Emmanuel Macron, here's what you need to remember from the two-day meeting, which was marked by the surprise visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the group's commitment to help fight the wildfires ravaging the Amazon forest in Brazil.

Emergency aid to fight Amazon wildfires

G7 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US — agreed to provide $20 million (€17.9 million) in emergency funding to fight the Amazon fires.

"We will straightaway offer Amazonian countries that signal to us their needs, financial support of at least up to 20 million euros ($22 million)," Macron said.

A record number of fires are currently burning in the Amazon, with Brazil's Space Research Centre revealing an 83% increase compared to a year earlier and other 80,000 in Brazil alone. Wildfires have also spread in neighbouring Bolivia.

Standing alongside Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, who was invited to join the wealthy-nation leaders in the French seaside resort of Biarritz, Macron said G7 countries were ready to provide concrete support to the region.

"France will do so with military support in the coming hours," he said, without giving further details.

Macron added that the G7 would draw up an initiative for the Amazon that will be launched at next month's U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Surprise visit from Zarif

Macron surprised everyone by holding a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the summit.

He said the conditions for a meeting between Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, have been created.

He added that a meeting could take place within weeks.

Tensions escalated between Iran and the US last year when Trump pulled the country out of the landmark nuclear accord and reimposed tariffs on the Middle Eastern country, defying European powers who remain in favour of the agreement.

The US President, who renewed his criticism of the deal — known as JCPOA — and reiterated that the US "did the right thing" by pulling out, said nonetheless that Iran is now a "country of tremendous potential".

Regarding a meeting with Rouhani, he told reporters that "if the circumstances were correct or right, I would certainly agree to that" and on the issue of a deal, he said: "We can have it done in a very short period of time."

Read more: US stance on Iran nuclear deal is a threat to Europe, Zarif says

Agreement on GAFA tax

Paris and Washington, at loggerheads in recent weeks over France's GAFA tax — so-called because it targets technology corporations including Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — have also agreed to work together "to get out of the difficulties that exist between us," Macron said.

He explained that the two countries plan to work together to"modernise the international fiscal system." If they can reach an agreement, France will then scrap its tax.

The compromise struck between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Donald Trump's White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow foresees France repaying companies the difference between the French tax and a planned mechanism being drawn up by the OECD.

However, Trump declined to say whether his threat of a retaliatory wine tax was off the table.


New rules for world trade

The French president said that G7 leaders were willing to modernise the rules of world trade.

"The G7 wants to overhaul the World Trade Organization in order to more efficiently protect intellectual property, solve disputes more quickly and stop unfair practices."

"The days of naiveté are over but so are the days of trying to solve the problem bilaterally. Joint work is the new way of doing things."

On the issue of the trade war between the US and China, Macron said that "President Trump clearly showed his willingness to reach an agreement" with China and that France supports such a scenario.

Trump announced on Friday that sharp tariff increases on $550 billion (€495 billion) worth of Chinese goods will kick in before the end of the year in to retaliate against new import duties from China.


But he told reporters: "I think they want to make a deal very badly. I think that was elevated last night. The vice-chairman of China came out, he said he wants to see a deal made."

He also described Chinese President Xi Jinping as "a great leader."

A summit on Ukraine to come

While the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine was not one of the central themes of the summit, Macron did mention during his final press conference that he and Germa Chancellor Angela Merkel would soon be holding a summit with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to try and work out a solution on the crisis.

Awaited first encounter between Trump and Johnson

A very awaited picture at the G7 summit this year was the first encounter between Trump and Boris Johnson as prime minister of the UK.

The pair met for their first bilateral meeting at the G7 summit in France, with Johnson saying he had made clear the UK's National Health Service (NHS) was off the table in trade talks with the US.


The new leader is walking the tightrope at the gathering, trying to keep European allies on side, whilst not angering Trump — he said trade talks with the United States would be tough but there were huge opportunities for British businesses in the US market.

Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets U.S. President Donald Trump for bilateral talks during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France August 25, 2019.Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS

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