President stresses need for multilateralism after G20

G20 – Fight against terrorism/international trade/climate/Africa – Press conference given by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, following the G20 meeting (excerpts)

Hamburg, 8 July 2017

G20 summit

Ladies and gentlemen,

I wanted to report back to you on this G20, which was held in Hamburg yesterday and today.

I’d like to begin by thanking Chancellor Angela Merkel for her welcome and for the immense amount of work she’s done with her team for this G20 to take place, and the several months spent preparing it.

I’d also like to pay tribute here to the police and civil security forces who provided the security for this G20 and suffered many – often violent – attacks from what I’d call not activists, but rioters. (…)

We had a G20 summit, which comprised tough discussions; we knew this and it was borne out.

There’s an explanation for this, which is that the G20 – created 10 years ago to deal with the turbulence, the economic and financial imbalances of the crisis which were holding sway back then – has become the forum in which we today discuss the major issues of globalization, the necessary control of it – i.e. [in terms of] trade, the climate, terrorism and immigration, and at the time of speaking there are widening differences between major powers, authoritarian powers are emerging and even in the West there is division, uncertainty and unpredictability which didn’t exist a few years ago.

All this means that what we sensed at the G7 is proving to be even harder at the G20, and in this respect, despite these difficulties, I think the communiqué and the kind of discussions we managed to have made it possible to maintain essential balances, issue statements of common interest and avoid taking any steps backwards. And in this respect, the role France has played over the past two days is in line both with the commitments I made and our role.

Terrorism/Internet propaganda/FATF

We began by having a long discussion about terrorism. There is definite agreement on the subject, given the nature of the challenge, and so as far as terrorism is concerned, we were able to move forward along the lines of what the joint Taormina statement enabled us to establish and what the European Council a few weeks ago made it possible to make progress on at European level as well. And I think the joint statement on terrorism is a good one which enables progress and signals all the G20 members’ commitment to fighting propaganda on the Internet – which involves resolute action and requires operators in particular to take on greater responsibility and respond more swiftly when it comes to fighting terrorist propaganda – and one which also establishes resolute, organized action to combat terrorism financing.

I this respect, given what I’ve just said, the G20 is the right forum, and in my view one of the main achievements of this G20, which France pushed for a great deal and which was a French proposal, was to officially strengthen the Financial Action Task Force, the FATF, which is a too-little-known structure but one which plays a crucial role when it comes to controlling finance, making it a stable, permanent body ensuring continuity, with the Secretariat General as its basis. One of the G20’s weaknesses today is that it doesn’t have permanent structures. The FATF will have these, as far as combating terrorism financing is concerned, and I think it’s a significant step forward because when you look at all the theatres of operations – be it the Middle East or the Sahel – every time it’s arms trafficking, drugs trafficking and human trafficking which sustain terrorist financial networks and allow these activities to continue and develop over the long term.

So in this respect, in my view this G20 has made good headway.

Globalization/multilateralism

As for the rest, on the subjects of trade, the climate, development and Africa, we had discussions which perfectly clarify the global debates we’re having today – i.e. the discussion on the doubts setting in about the regulation of globalization, on the doubts some people are beginning to have about the relevance of multilateralism and on calling into question a system we’ve had since 1945.

I say this extremely clearly: I make no concessions to those people who are pushing towards that, and this was the thrust of what I said over the two days. Why? Because today more than yesterday we need multilateralism, great coordination and the authorities which were created after the Second World War. Otherwise we’ll go back to national egoism and major imbalances even more quickly.

World trade/dumping

As far as trade is concerned, we need trade that is both free and fair. Over two days we were all living in a city which was devastated by rioters – I won’t make any allowances for them, but they also signal what is being expressed by civil society, which is starting to doubt our collective ability to control globalization; we must listen to this.

The answer to this lies neither in protectionism nor dumping, and today there are various temptations, but they exist around the table with one side saying, “dumping is a practice we must allow, it’s a new way of doing trade”, no; and on the other side stances, positions are adopted where people say – because world trade no longer operates as it should – “we’re going to close the borders and move towards renewed protectionist practices”. Both are the wrong answer; we need free trade because it allows globalization to work better for citizens, businesses and consumers. When you’re more competitive it pushes you to win; when less so, you lose, but international competition needs to be fair and it this isn’t the case when people don’t abide by trade and industry rules. It’s dumping, so I welcome the fact that last year at the G20 in China initial strong statements were made against overcapacity in some areas, particularly the steel industry. (…) This issue is being taken into account; France will continue to be very vigilant.

The second thing we often do wrong concerns tax: France will continue supporting resolute action in international and European forums in order to combat fiscal dumping, which distorts international trade.

The third concerns the social sphere: we can’t agree to world trade being organized solely on the basis of the lowest common denominator in terms of social standards, because in that case all countries lose out.

And finally, there’s the subject of the environment, and I’m mentioning it here to show you how much everything hangs together: international trade works if everyone creates the same rules in terms of emissions and environmental constraints. If you believe you can optimize your position without respecting the rules of the climate, then you damage the nature of global trade, and that’s what lies behind trade that is both free and fair, i.e. a trade comprising rules of reciprocity and regulation. That’s what France promotes, it’s what our discussions enabled us to clarify, but it’s also what allowed us to note the tensions and risks existing in international trade.

For my part, I recalled that the approach of looking at international trade only in terms of bilateral surpluses and deficits is a profound mistake that will once again fragment our international stability. Why? Because when I buy an iPhone in the United States, I’m not only putting a strain on my trade deficit vis-à-vis the United States; the United States has bought a maximum number of components from China and other countries, and so all this shows that much of what we produce today is created globally, with a distribution of added value that depends on our comparative advantages and our ability to produce. So we mustn’t fall into any of the short-term traps our public opinion or our difficulties may sometimes lead us towards.

In any case, France has championed this path of free and fair trade, and in this regard I think the balanced nature of the text enables us to express what we think; but a text doesn’t wipe out the tensions which exist and will continue to exist on this issue for a long time.

Climate

On the climate issue, 19 of us reiterated our commitment and all 20 of us noted that America has the choice not to remain in the Paris Agreement. That’s a way of having a 20-strong declaration, and in this regard I welcome Chancellor Merkel’s desire to avoid having a declaration limited to 19 member states and for all 20 of us to be able to write something. The fact remains that I personally still think the United States of America is making a mistake in not staying in the Paris Agreement; I’ve repeated this, and I don’t want this American decision, under any circumstances, to lead to any backsliding whatsoever for the signatories to the agreement or on the concrete progress we must make.

This was the focus of my bilateral and multilateral discussions on the issue. I noted with satisfaction that President Putin wanted to confirm his adherence to the Paris Agreement and therefore his desire to take action; in all my discussions I also noted a genuine desire to get things done and achieve concrete results.

That’s also what enabled, during my bilateral discussion with President Xi, genuine progress and a desire to identify shared projects we can inaugurate together – at any rate to push forward a shared agenda beyond what our two countries are already doing in several areas, particularly civil nuclear energy. And China reaffirmed its desire to make headway on the environmental transition. So that’s what I discussed with President Putin, and it’s also what I’ll be doing very specifically with Prime Minister Modi, because before the end of the year I’ll be visiting India for the International Solar Alliance summit, which is one way the Paris Agreement will be put into practice and which will enable us to launch several projects, bring together several countries in support and take really practical action on this.

I was also able to talk about this climate issue to several other counterparts, [at] the World Bank and the United Nations, and here I want to announce to you that on 12 December 2017, two years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, I’ll be convening a summit before taking new actions for the climate, particularly in terms of finance, and so France will be hosting a mid-way summit, two years after the Paris Agreement, which will enable us – particularly on the finance provided for by that agreement – to raise private and public finance, but also identify projects which can be financed in this way and which will show concrete progress on what France made possible, namely an international commitment to which 195 countries are today committed – perhaps 194 tomorrow.

I think that on this issue it’s essential to make concrete progress, and the very coherence of the G20 is at stake. I tried to explain this to some people: you can’t seek to combat terrorism effectively unless you take resolute action against global warming, otherwise you have to go and explain to the people living in Chad, Niger and elsewhere that the climate isn’t a problem. Today, terrorism, the major imbalances in our world and what we’re experiencing are linked to the climate imbalance generated by our international mode of production. So we must address this, because everything is linked, and if you want to deal with African issues, development, industry and the climate separately, I don’t think it makes any sense. As this agenda is interlinked, it’s our responsibility to honour all these commitments consistently.

Africa/development

This morning we had a long discussion about development, particularly development in Africa, and here I want to welcome this G20’s tangible steps forward, particularly the establishment of partnerships with several African countries and clear commitments involving the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and on this point the methodology chosen by this G20 is, in my view, the right one. Here too, if we want a resolute policy on development, it’s the essential complement to the real policy of combating insecurity that France is conducting, particularly in the Sahel, and these are the two pillars we must constantly rely on for Africa.

I had the opportunity to recall this last Sunday, when I visited Bamako for a G5 Sahel summit, announcing the Alliance for the Sahel; it’s exactly the spirit of what we discussed today, the desire to bring together all the finance, involve partner countries and international organizations in this financing and work on specific projects to avoid loss of time, pointless intermediaries and institutional waste.

What matters in terms of development are the players on the ground and the projects, and so it’s in this spirit that I’d like to move forward on the issue, and it was in this spirit that we discussed development for Africa this morning.

Migration

We also talked about migration, which is a long-term, global challenge; it was the focus of discussions in Berlin last week, when we prepared this summit, and a few of us Europeans will definitely talk about it again next Wednesday at the Trieste summit. As you can see, all these issues are linked, too, and personally I absolutely don’t share the contradictory idea that you can discuss some of these issues without looking at every aspect of them.

Poverty/pandemics

Finally, we had a very consensual discussion about the fight against poverty and pandemics, and the desire to release more funding for education, in particular in Africa, and take concrete action on inclusive growth and in particular gender equality. We recalled our mutual commitments at national level and also our desire to move forward on these issues.

That’s a quick overview of the issues that were covered during this G20 summit. As you’ve understood, in my view there was genuine progress on the fight against terrorism finance, backtracking was avoided on many other issues, and today there’s something everyone must realize: our world has never been so fragmented, the centrifugal forces have never been so strong and our shared assets have never been so threatened. What are those shared assets? Democracy, the relationship with individual freedoms, gender equality, education and the climate. When we look at the planet today, do we think those issues are the best they’ve been in the past 60 years? No! So we’ve avoided saying the opposite in our speeches, but there’s still a great deal to do to ensure that our action lives up to what we owe those people living on the planet today, but also those who will be living here tomorrow.

For my part, I believe that this is the main challenge for our generation and that it’s therefore essential for us to go further very quickly, in the coming weeks and months, on many of the issues I’ve mentioned./.

Published on 18/07/2017

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