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Leaders Seek WTO Reform to Spur Open, Fair Trade: G-7 Update

Josh Wingrove, Helene Fouquet and Jennifer Jacobs

(Bloomberg) -- Group of Seven leaders hold their final day of talks in Biarritz, France, with U.S. President Donald Trump holding out the prospect of a meeting with Iran’s leader and signaling fresh trade talks with China. Read the developments in real time.

Must read:Macron Says Deal Struck With U.S. on Taxing Tech Giants Trump Says China Talks Back on as Beijing Downplays BreakthroughTrump Strikes Conciliatory Tone on Iran, Blessing Zarif G-7 Trip

G-7 Statement on Trade, Iran, Libya, Ukraine, HK (6:19 p.m.)

Instead of the usual detailed communique, Macron released a one-page statement that he said he’d written himself, drafting language after each session and checking with his fellow leaders.

On trade, it endorses fair and open global trade, and calls for reforms of the WTO to boost intellectual property protection and tackle unfair trading practices more quickly.

On Iran, which became one of the key issues of the summit, leaders agreed Iran shouldn’t obtain nuclear weapons and they should support regional stability.

On Ukraine, France and Germany will organize talks with Kiev and Russia in the coming weeks.

On Libya, the G-7 called for a lasting cease-fire and a peace conference.

And on Hong Kong, leaders underlined the importance of the 1984 joint declaration between China and the U.K. That statement set out the basis for how Hong Kong should be governed following its return to China, including its distinct rights and freedoms from the rest of China. The Beijing government in 2017 said that agreement no longer has any bearing.

Macron Says He’s Worried About Global Growth (6:03 p.m.)

The French president, in his closing press conference, highlighted risks to the global economy. He said G-7 leaders agreed that they need to modernize the global trading system and make the WTO more efficient.

Trump Eases Rhetoric on EU With Auto Tariffs (5:41 p.m.)

Trump said he thinks he’ll be able to reach a new settlement with the EU on the terms of trade without having to impose tariffs on European cars.

"We are very close to doing a deal with the EU," he said.

"They don’t want tariffs, it’s very simple," he added. "I think I’m going to make a deal with the EU without having to go that route."

Trump Says Russia Better Inside the G-7 (5:24 p.m.)

Trump says he is not alone in wanting to have Russia ushered back into the fold of the G-7: "Having them in the room is better than having them outside the room" and "a lot of people say having Russia inside the room is better than having them outside."

In conclusion: "My inclination is to say yes they should be in."

Whether Putin accepts is another matter: "He’s a proud person. I would certainly invite him. Whether or not he could come psychologically that’s a tough thing to do."

Macron Lays Thinking About Zarif Surprise Visit (5:06 p.m.)

The French president said that he never spoke on behalf of other countries and that he only tried and tested other solutions. Before making the call to fly the Iranian top diplomat into Biarritz, "I informed trump, not to involve the U.S. not to talk on behalf of the U.S., but to inform. So I did it on my own, I informed Trump, he was informed at each minute.”

Trump Says Circumstances Must be Right (5:01 p.m.)

After Macron raised the stakes with his prediction that a Trump meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could lead to a new agreement, Trump he would meet Rouhani "if the circumstances were correct."

He said Iran is not the same country it was two and a half years ago. "Iran is a country of tremendous potential," he said. "We are not looking for leadership change."

Iran has been one of the key issues of this summit after Trump and Macron scuffled over the French president’s mandate to handle communication with Tehran. Trump ultimately acquiesced in Macron’s plan to bring the Iranian foreign minister to Biarritz after he was tipped off by the French leader.

At a certain point there needs to be a meeting between Trump and Rouhani, Macron said. The real change, for Macron, was that Rouhani this morning said he would ready for that meeting.

Trump Says China Really Wants a Trade Deal ’Badly’ (4:48 p.m.)

Asked if he thought China was stringing the U.S. along and that the negotiations were stuck, Trump disagree: "I think they want to make a deal very badly."

Trump gave his rationale: "I think they’re very smart and I think president Xi is a great leader... He can’t lose 3 million jobs in a very short period of time” so "maybe they want to (do a deal) or maybe they don’t but not not sure they have a choice.”

France, U.S. Reach Deal on Internet Taxes (4:44 p.m.)

Macron says he’s reached an agreement on France’s digital tax that will avert potential U.S. tariffs on French wine. France agrees to adhere to whatever proposal the OECD comes up with and Macron forecasts that this should be agreed next year. "This deal is good for both sides," he says.

Macron Wants to Bring Trump Rouhani Together (4:39 p.m.)

It is clear that Macron’s big plan is to bring together Trump and the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He disclosed the idea next to Trump, during the joint press conference. Now what will Trump say, when asked?

He had warm words for the lunch he and Trump shared, where many key decisions were made, including get on the same page on Iran: "Our lunch together was productive and dynamic. We agree that Iran must respect its nuclear obligations.”

Macron Discusses Decision to Bring Zarif to Biarritz (4:37 p.m.)

The president said he realizes that the situation in Iran is still fragile.

Macron Points to a One-Page Statement (4:34 p.m.)

Macron points to a one-page statement that displaces the old format. He wanted to have a joint press conference to pass the baton to Trump, to show continuity. He said neither of them like to waste time.

Merkel Wants to Start on Trade Talks With U.S. (1:35 p.m.)

The chancellor said she wants to the EU and the U.S. to start trade negotiations using the bloc’s existing mandate -- which excludes agriculture, a key French demand. But she also signaled that she would be open to broadening the mandate further down the line.

"Most important would be that these talks begin," Merkel told reporters at her final press conference. "I’ve lobbied for that here, even if one assumes that this cannot be the complete agenda yet. I hope that the talks will begin on the basis of the existing mandate which the EU has got from the member states."

Merkel Welcomes Progress on Iran (12:53 p.m.)

Iran has been one of the big focuses of attention at this summit and Merkel was upbeat about what’s been achieved. In a nutshell, Trump gave his blessing to French efforts to lead the outreach even though the U.S. isn’t ready to get involved.

“There is an atmosphere at this summit in which talks are welcome, talks of Europe with Iran and especially of France with Iran,” she said. “This happens in coordination with the U.S. and that’s already a lot.”

“What will come out of this we cannot say today,” she went on. “But the firm will to talk is already a big step forward.”

G-7 in Miami? (11:47 a.m.)

Trump is already thinking that next year’s G-7 summit in the United States should be in Miami -- and perhaps more specifically centered around his own property at Trump Doral golf resort.

“We haven’t found anything that could even come close to competing” with Doral, Trump said, stressing the no final decisions have been made.

Trump cited the advantages of a global summit in Miami, telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of their meeting this morning that she would be just a three-minute helicopter ride from the airport to the site.

Trump has already run afoul of ethics experts and faced multiple lawsuits over his continued involvement with some of his private business, such as the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Located a global summit on one of his properties would open him up to a slew of new allegations that he’s mixing his private financial gain with his public position as commander in chief.

Doral is definitely built more for play than work, and its website boasts that it’s only eight miles for the Miami airport. It’s 800 acres, boasts four golf courses and 643 rooms, plus more than 100,000 square feet of event space -- including the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom.

Trump and Merkel Make Nice Ahead of Bilateral (11:37 a.m.)

The president and the chancellor looked more comfortable than they often have in the past, swapping jokes and laughing together in front of reporters before heading into private talks.

There was policy substance too. Both said there has been progress on Iran and agreed they have to prevent Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

Trump said the G-7 has found “great unity” on Iran. Merkel said there is movement on the issue but there’s still a long way to go.

France, U.S. Draft Deal on Internet Tax (9:40 a.m.)

On the sidelines of the leaders’ negotiations in Biarritz, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has been holding meetings with his U.S. counterpart Steven Mnuchin and other members of Trump’s economic policy team.

They’ve agreed a draft deal to prevent an escalation of the tensions over a new French tax on internet giants that had riled the U.S. administration, a French finance minister official said.

Under the terms of the deal, France will pledge to respect any policy agreed at the OECD and refund internet companies the difference if the tax is lower than the one France has already introduced. The U.S., in return, won’t impose retaliatory tariffs on French wines.

Now Trump and Macron have to decide whether they will accept the deal. They have a joint press conference at 3:30 p.m.

Trump Knew of Zarif Visit, Supported Invitation (9:20 a.m.)

One of the biggest questions hanging over Sunday’s surprise visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was when Trump was told. He answered the question himself this morning.

“He spoke to me, he asked me, I said if you want to do that, that’s OK,” Trump said at a morning meeting Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. “I don’t consider that disrespectful at all, especially when he asks me for approval.”

China Wants to Talk Trade (9:01 a.m.)

Trump told reporters that the Chinese government called his team in Washington Sunday in a bid to restart talks on trade. The two countries both raised tariffs last week as their trade war escalated.

“China called last night our trade people and said let’s get back to the table,” Trump said. “They understand how life works.”

The president said the U.S. would accept the Chinese invitation and return to the negotiations.

--With assistance from Arne Delfs.

To contact the reporters on this story: Josh Wingrove in Biarritz, France at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net;Helene Fouquet in Biarritz at hfouquet1@bloomberg.net;Jennifer Jacobs in Biarritz at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Flavia Krause-Jackson

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