G7 ministers take aim at cybercrime

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British Finance Minister Philip Hammond attended the G7 meeting in Bari, Italy yesterdau and emphasised the need for the United Kingdom to have a strong voice in global councils and in the Brexit negotiations.

The finance ministers and central bank governors from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States left trade off the agenda at the Bari talks, apparently due to a gap among the members over Trump's "America First" trade policy.

Mnuchin is taking the opportunity to lay out the Trump administration's views on trade.

But unlike a G7 leaders' communiqué of 2016, the Bari meeting did not endorse free trade and reject protectionism, reflecting pressure from the United States where President Donald Trump has signaled his skepticism about free trade deals. "We don't want to be protectionist but we reserve our right to be protectionist to the extent that we believe trade is not free and fair".

BARI, Italy (AP) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that major trading partners are "much more comfortable" with the Trump administration's stance on trade and tax policy and understand that they will benefit from the intended U.S. growth.

According to one Italian official, however, it is evident that Mnuchin will not change the U.S. position on trade.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world's seven biggest economic powers have kept their watered-down promise to promote free trade, as the new USA administration's reluctance to commit to a full-throated defence against protectionism remained firm. He also said the administration had held "preliminary but productive discussions" with the Canadian and Mexican governments on Nafta.

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The United States believes the world's other rich economies are getting used to the policy plans of President Donald Trump, but Europe and Japan remain anxious about Washington's shift.

The United States has been told by all the other Group of Seven economies that it must not turn its back on worldwide cooperation on global economic policy, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Saturday, DNA reported.

Mnuchin briefed Aso on planned USA tax measures, including a drastic corporate tax cut, announced last month by the administration of President Donald Trump.

"On some very important points, we see there is a desire for continuity, a desire to work with the G-7 and G-20 partners", French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

The statement also stressed the need for common practices to detect vulnerabilities in the global financial system.

The agreements, presented in the form of a final statement, are not legally binding but they represent the leaders' political commitment to follow through.

The meeting prepares the way for a summit at the level of presidents and prime ministers in Taormina, Sicily, on May 26-27.

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