G7 leaders agree to fight protectionism, but U.S. still out on Paris Agreement

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

However, the deal Saturday acknowledges Trump’s stance on trade and 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,” says the six-page final communique from the G7 summit in Sicily.

On the issue of climate change, the communique says only six of the leaders, plus European Union leaders, agreed to stand by their commitment to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The document says the U.S. is still reviewing its policies on climate change and the Paris Agreement, which Trump had promised to back out of during his presidential campaign.

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The communique notes the Americans are, thus, “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 leaders 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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went into the talks championing the benefits of free trade and action on climate change, as well as 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 fulfilment 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.