French President hails G7 progress with Donald Trump
G7 summit – Biarritz – Preliminary statement by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Mr Donald Trump, President of the United States (excerpts)
Biarritz, 26 August 2019
(Check against delivery)
Mr President, First Lady, ladies and gentlemen,
At the end of this G7 summit we’ve been holding for nearly two days, I obviously wanted to report back to you, but before anything else to thank President Trump and all the heads of state and government present for this extremely productive work, the very good discussions and the very good exchanges we’ve had together since Saturday evening.
Indeed, there was a lot of nervousness at the beginning of this G7 summit, a lot of expectation, sometimes a lot of tension and conflict that may have been reported, and I can genuinely say here that what we wanted together especially was for a message of unity, a positive spirit in the discussions, to emerge, and that’s what really emerged from our talks on many issues. As I’d pledged, we didn’t negotiate a very long text, and in a few moments a single-page statement will be handed to you – there are subsequently a lot of annexes, texts that were agreed, but a single page going over a few clearly key issues in addition to the discussions and working sessions we’ve had. (…)
I’ll report back in more detail a little later on all the points we managed to reach agreement on and the progress on many issues, from biodiversity to the digital sector.
But we wanted to have this press conference together because next year it’s the United States of America that will have to host the G7 summit, and this passing of the baton from presidency to presidency is something we wanted, and also – I have to tell you – because for the past two and a half days we’ve done a lot of things together. I probably have several things in common with President Trump, but one especially: we don’t like to waste our time and we like to get results, agreements, and get everyone into a positive momentum. And so as soon as President Trump arrived, in the private lunch we had – which I must say was probably one of the most productive and substantive discussions we’ve had together – we got into a momentum that genuinely enabled us to make progress on a number of issues. I really want to thank you, Mr President, for this spirit and effectiveness.
Just a few words on some long-awaited points, in particular about two countries. On Iran, President Trump and I have had discussions throughout recent weeks but especially over the past two days. We agree that Iran must comply with its nuclear obligations, behave responsibly in the Gulf and work with us. And basically there are two very clear things we want: Iran must never have a nuclear weapon, and this situation must not threaten the region’s stability. France has taken several initiatives – and I’ve always kept President Trump informed of them – to try and find technical ways of budging, because America’s decisions in recent months have exerted a lot of pressure and must put us in a situation where the region’s security is improved. Thanks to this coordination we took an initiative yesterday, namely to bring back the Iranian Foreign Minister. There were many discussions with the French ministers, which enabled a path to be sketched out. It’s not in the bag. Things are still extremely fragile, but discussions have thus been started at technical level, with some genuine progress. This morning President Rouhani said clearly that he’s ready to meet any political leader if it’s in his country’s interest. What I told Minister Zarif, and what I told President Rouhani over the telephone was that if he agrees to a meeting with President Trump, my strong belief is that an agreement can be found. We know its terms, its goals, but we must now get around the table and reach it. So in the coming weeks, on the basis of these discussions, I’d like us to succeed in having a summit meeting between President Rouhani and President Trump. Of course I myself and our partners, who have a role to play in the nuclear negotiations, may be there and will be fully involved, but I think that this meeting is very important and that these recent days of clarification, and the strong messages that were provided, the shift that’s been made and also the work that’s been done between our ministers – and here I want to thank Secretary Mnuchin, Minister Le Maire and Minister Le Drian, who are here and have enabled us to make a lot of progress on these issues – we’ve created the conditions for this meeting and therefore for an agreement. I’m still very cautious, you have to be very humble, but I think in any case it’s something that will halt any escalation and enable us to achieve the goals we’re pursuing. And I really want to thank you, President, for showing, during the discussion we had, both in the middle of Saturday and on Saturday evening, this desire to reach an agreement – it’s in your nature – and also to reach it in terms that are good for the region’s security, because the final goal, the demand you have, is precisely for a nuclear weapon not to be obtained and to be clearer about what lies ahead.
Trade and digital taxation
On trade, we share a lot of observations, analyses, we have very good discussions – I’ll come back to this in detail later – but I think I can say on this that the discussion clarified why the United States legitimately believes today that the situation is unjust. We have international rules on trade and I think we all agree – and we’ve also said so on this page we’ve issued together – that it’s good to have trade rules and organization all together. But this collective organization hasn’t been effective enough to resolve problems when they’ve arisen, it hasn’t been effective enough to protect our manufacturers’ intellectual property. There are discussions under way, in particular a discussion between President Trump and President Xi, with – as we’ve seen again in the past few hours – some developments and an agreement that will, I hope, be reached. But we also collectively reaffirmed here our desire to change these trade rules to achieve our ends and say, “We must profoundly modernize and reform them” so that all these unjust situations our countries have sometimes fallen victim to – meaning that our workers aren’t respected and that intellectual property isn’t protected – must be stopped. And we know the reform process, and we’re going to get down to it together. And there was also, it has to be said, a lot of nervousness, sometimes linked to misunderstandings or what certain very powerful economic players might say about France’s well-known digital tax. We made ourselves clear about it, sometimes we joked about it, but I think we reached a very good agreement, and there again our ministers’ work enabled us to make a lot of progress on things. Basically we have situations in our economies that are very unjust. The fact is that certain stakeholders pay no taxes and create unfair competition with other stakeholders. These big international players who pay no taxes are also those who create the most brutal changes and sometimes create the biggest global imbalances. Is that just? No. We’ve pushed very hard to change the international rules on this issue, to do so at European level, and it’s true that 10 or so European countries – France but also Italy, and Britain is preparing to do so – a lot of countries are currently doing so on a national basis. It’s not against any particular company, it’s in order to resolve this problem, and a lot of French companies will also be affected by this tax. That’s what France wants: not at all to introduce the tax – some of you heard me several months ago – but to resolve the international problem. And I think we’ve made a real step forward, because together we confirmed that we’re going to work to find an agreement in 2020 to modernize the international tax rules in the OECD framework, which will enable us to take into account these necessary changes and combat adverse tax competition which destroys jobs, including in the United States. We also did a lot of bilateral Franco-American work on this digital tax, and we have an agreement to overcome the difficulties that have existed between us. And so we’re going to work together on this bilateral basis and on this international basis to find a solution, and I said very clearly that the day we have this international taxation, France will cancel all plans for a tax, because it’s actually what we wanted to do; and everything that has been paid under the tax will be deducted from this international tax. It’s been looked at with the ministers, I’ll obviously let them go into detail if they want to, but what’s important to say here is that we’ve reached an agreement that is good on both sides, and that by doing so we’re enabling extremely negative international situations to be resolved and modernizing the international tax system. Together we’re working on shared goals in a spirit of cooperation, and I think that’s extremely important.
There you are. As you’ll see in the text, we made a lot of progress and did a lot of work together on Libya, Syria, North Korea and Hong Kong, in that spirit of unity I was talking about, and lastly on a lot of concrete initiatives too. I want to mention one that we talked about on the first evening, namely the Amazon region. President Trump spoke to President Bolsonaro on the telephone before coming. Moreover, he himself very quickly committed the United States of America to supporting the population, and we endorsed an extremely ambitious draft initiative which President Piñera presented this morning after carrying out a consultation with all the heads of state and government in the region, as we and President Trump wished. (…)
North Korea and China
On North Korea, we know how very much President Trump is committed to this battle and will continue to be; he talked to us about it earlier, and we’ll be behind him. I hope we’ll reach an agreement on China that would be a genuine change. And we’ll be together side by side on all the battles to be waged. (…)./.