Leaders at the Group of Seven (G7) summit agreed to provide US$20 million in emergency funding mainly to send fire-fighting aircraft - Photo by GettyImages

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Leaders at the Group of Seven (G7) summit agreed to provide US$20 million in emergency funding mainly to send fire-fighting aircraft. The G7 nations also agreed to support a medium-term reforestation plan which will be unveiled at the United Nations (UN) in September.

“We will straightaway offer Amazonian countries that signal to us their needs, financial support of at least up to US$22 million,” said France President Emmanuel Macron who host the three days meeting in Biarritz, France on Monday (08/26).

A record number of fires are currently burning in the Amazon, with Brazil’s Space Research Centre revealing an 83 percent increase compared to a year earlier and other 80,000 in Brazil alone. Wildfires have also spread in neighboring Bolivia.

Standing alongside Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, who was invited to join the wealthy-nation leaders, Macron said G7 countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States (US)- were ready to provide concrete support to the region.

“France will do so with military support in the coming hours,” he said, without giving further details.

Macron added that the G7 would draw up an initiative for the Amazon that will be launched at next month’s UN General Assembly in New York.

On world trade, the French president said that G7 leaders were willing to modernize the rules of world trade.

“The G7 wants to overhaul the World Trade Organization in order to more efficiently protect intellectual property, solve disputes more quickly and stop unfair practices.”

“The days of naiveté are over but so are the days of trying to solve the problem bilaterally. Joint work is a new way of doing things.”

On the issue of the US-China trade war, Macron said that “President Donald Trump clearly showed his willingness to reach an agreement” with China and that France supports such a scenario.

Trump announced on Friday that sharp tariff increases on $550 billion worth of Chinese goods will kick in before the end of the year in to retaliate against new import duties from China.

But he told reporters: “I think they want to make a deal very badly. I think that was elevated last night. The vice-chairman of China came out, he said he wants to see a deal made.” He also described Chinese President Xi Jinping as “a great leader.”

Paris and Washington, at loggerheads in recent weeks over France’s GAFA tax — so-called because it targets technology corporations including Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon — have also agreed to work together “to get out of the difficulties that exist between us,” Macron said.

He explained that the two countries plan to work together to”modernize the international fiscal system.” If they can reach an agreement, France will then scrap its tax.

The compromise struck between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow foresees France repaying companies the difference between the French tax and a planned mechanism being drawn up by the OECD.

While German Chancellor Angela Merkel is hailing what she describes as a “big step forward” on Iran at the G7 Summit. A constructive discussion was built at the summit which was followed by Macron’ surprises by holding a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Macron said the conditions for a meeting between Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, have been created. He added that a meeting could take place within weeks.

Tensions escalated between Iran and the US last year when Trump pulled the country out of the landmark nuclear accord and reimposed tariffs on the Middle Eastern country, defying European powers who remain in favor of the agreement.

Trump, who renewed his criticism of the deal — known as JCPOA — and reiterated that the US “did the right thing” by pulling out, said nonetheless that Iran is now a “country of tremendous potential”.

Regarding a meeting with Rouhani, he told reporters that “if the circumstances were correct or right, I would certainly agree to that” and on the issue of a deal, he said: “We can have it done in a very short period of time.”

While the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine was not one of the central themes of the summit, Macron did mention during his final press conference that he and Merkel would soon be holding a summit with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to try and work out a solution on the crisis.

On the Brexit issues, the European Union says the United Kingdom must pay the divorce bill even there is a no-deal scenario. Previously, Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed to the amount of divorce planned from will only pay $11 billion instead of the 39 billion pound liability agreed by former premier Theresa May under a no-deal Brexit.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com