May 12, 2017 / 1:14 PM / 6 months ago

Italy G7 to give unchanged message on trade, forex - official

BARI, Italy, (Reuters) - - G7 economic leaders will use the same language on trade, currencies and monetary policy at the end of their meeting in Italy on Saturday as the larger Group of 20 did in March at a meeting in Germany, an Italian G7 official said.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde arrives at the Petruzzelli Theatre during a G7 for Financial ministers in the southern Italian city of Bari, Italy May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Speaking on Friday on the sidelines of the gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors in Bari, the official said there was a consensus not to veer from the message delivered by the G20 in Baden Baden two months ago.

At that meeting, ministers dropped their traditional pledge to keep global free trade open, bowing to an increasingly protectionist United States, and said only that they were “working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies.”

The decision to use the same wording in Bari suggests the United States’ partners have made little progress in convincing President Donald Trump to commit to a multilateral approach to trade that he has threatened to abandon.

Trump has already pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and wants to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Italy's Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan arrives for the G7 Financial ministers meeting in the southern Italian city of Bari, Italy, May 12, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The official, who asked not to be named or quoted directly, helped prepare the agenda for the Bari meeting.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble arrives at the Petruzzelli Theatre during a G7 for Financial ministers in the southern Italian city of Bari, Italy May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

She said at a briefing in Rome on Monday that trade would not be on the official agenda but did not say then whether it would feature in the final statement.

The section on foreign exchange policy used by the G20 in its closing statement in Baden Baden read as follows:

“We reiterate that excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability. We will consult closely on exchange markets. We reaffirm our previous exchange rate commitments, including that we will refrain from competitive devaluations and we will not target our exchange rates for competitive purposes.”

Asked if the G7 in Bari was likely to discuss climate change, another area in which Trump’s approach has caused concern among the United States’ partners, the official said the issue was not among the meeting’s objectives or priorities.

Reporting by Silvia Aloisi

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