“I want to draw your attention to growth and social inclusion,” said Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, who was hosting the Group of Seven (G7) Ministerial Meeting on Finance in Bari, Italy, on May 11-13.
“They have become a key topic of the G7 and G20,” added the Italian minister. “Growth cannot happen without social inclusion.”
Italy is at the G7 table because of its very hectic growth and Germany because of its great trade surplus, as finance minister Wolfgang Schauble is expected to face criticism in Bari.
“I think the tax systems in Germany and Europe are pretty good,” said Schauble from Bari, adding that he is confident that good solutions will address his concerns.
The finance ministers of the G7 – an informal bloc of industrialised democracies (the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union – gathered to discuss inequality, international tax rules, cyber security and blocking the funding of terrorism, according to the official agenda for the two-day meeting.
However, it seems this meeting will be another interesting opportunity for Germany to continue talks on tax. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to brief his counterparts on his administration’s preferred tax and trade policy.
“I think you probably saw last night we made an announcement of a 100-day economic plan with the Chinese, so I think we are very happy with how we are proceeding on trade,” said Mnuchin.
According to one Italian official, however, it is evident that Mnuchin will not change the US position on trade. This is why the Italian agenda-setters would like to avoid putting the issue on the table at this stage.
Lagarde on Greece: There is not much clarity yet
The May 12 breakfast left some space for the Greek debt issue, ahead of the anticipated conclusion of the second review of the third bailout programme at the May 22 Eurogroup meeting.
“There is not enough clarity yet,” said International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde after the meeting. “Our European partners need to be more specific in terms of debt relief, which is an imperative.”
“Since the mission left Athens, since we had the SLA two weeks ago and due to the climate of the talks, I think we can have an agreement, a satisfactory one at the Eurogroup of 22 May,” said Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.
“We need the IMF on board, we want the IMF, we have discussions with the IMF and it is positive,” added Moscovici, expressing his personal view.
After all, last week’s Staff Level Agreement was between the Greek government and all partners, the Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the IMF.
“The IMF is a partner that is trusted and gives credibility through its own programme,” said the Commissioner when asked about limiting debt talks between the IMF and EU Institutions.