(AP) — Amid uncertainty over U.S. trade policies, French President Emmanuel Macron is calling for a new global economic order, decrying an “unprecedented crisis” in the market economy.
Macron said the market economy has become too finance-driven, creating inequalities “that are shaking up our political order.” He called for a global “rethink,” but did not offer details.
In a sweeping diplomatic speech Tuesday, Macron said “we are living the end of Western hegemony” in the world, in part as a result of Western “errors” over past centuries.
Macron spoke the day after hosting an intense G-7 summit clouded by concerns about U.S. trade policies and tensions with China and an economic slowdown. The G-7 ended with a call for “fair” and “open” trade but no mention of currencies or fiscal stimulus.
Macron addressed a multitude of issues Monday night in a wide-ranging speech after the G-7 summit he hosted. He said the Amazon, while mostly Brazilian, is a world issue and that his message to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is, “We cannot allow you to destroy everything.”
Amid tensions with Bolsonaro over his handling of fires in the Amazon and his pursuit of economic growth at the expense of the forest — not to mention insults to Macron’s wife — the French president said: “We respect your sovereignty. It’s your country.”
But he called the Amazon “the lungs of the planet” and said: “The Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet. We can help you reforest. We can find the means for your economic development that respects the natural balance. But we cannot allow you to destroy everything.”
Speaking on French TV after hosting the G-7 summit, Macron acknowledged that Europe, by importing soybeans from Brazil, is not without blame for the agricultural pressure on the rainforest, saying: “We are partly complicit.”
Also Monday night Macron said he understands why President Trump is keeping his cards close to his chest and not flat-out saying that he won’t make good on a previous threat to heavily tax French wine.
Macron said France and the United States struck a “very good agreement” to defuse tensions over a French tax on online giants such as Google.
The tax had prompted threats from Trump of heavy tariffs on French wine. But after the G-7 summit, Trump effectively glossed over that issue, leaving it unclear whether the threat of a tax on French wine was moot and off the table.
Macron, speaking later on French TV, suggested that Trump was simply being a cagey negotiator, waiting for the outcome of promised talks on an international tax on Internet giants.
Macron said of the wine threat: “While he has no deal, he doesn’t want to say that he won’t do it.”
On Iran Macron said U.S. sanctions have succeeded in changing the stance of its leaders, but he also expressed concerns that the pressure could inflame the region if pushed too far.
Speaking after the G-7 summit where he stole the limelight by unexpectedly inviting Iran’s foreign minister for talks, Macron said his diplomacy on Iran at the meeting in Biarritz “lowered the pressure.”
Seeking to justify the role of mediator between Iran and the United States that Macron is carving out for France, the French leader quoted one of his predecessors, World War II hero Gen. Charles de Gaulle: “Diplomacy is trying to hold together broken windows.”
Macron said his surprise invitation to Iran’s foreign minister to talks on the sidelines of the G-7 summit “wasn’t a poker move” but rather “France playing a role of trying to mediate.”
“The sanctions obviously have an impact on Iran,” Macron said. “Iran is in recession. The population is suffering. There is pressure on the regime. So that has changed things. But we have reached a breaking point, if you will.”
He said the pressure could lead to Iran resuming the enrichment of uranium “to try to get nuclear weapons” and “if they do, the Americans will certainly respond.”
“I don’t want this escalation. So France is trying out ideas,” he said.
Speaking of France’s so-called internet tax, Macron said France intends to refund the difference if its national tax on big digital companies turns out to be higher than a tax proposal being negotiated among more than 120 countries.
He said the promised refunds are aimed at warding off any “retaliatory taxation,” an apparent reference to Trump’s vow to add heavy import taxes on French wine. Trump considers France’s 3% tax on tech companies as targeting American firms.
The French measure would tax companies that do business in France without any physical presence and pay taxes in countries with lower rates.
France has said it would prefer a solution reached through international negotiations guided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The talks are aimed at finding a way to more fairly tax such companies by 2020.
As for the world economy, with clouds over global growth, Macron issued a short Group of Seven declaration committing leaders to “open and fair global trade and the stability of the global economy.”
The declaration Macron issued Monday at the close of the G-7 summit cited “great unity” among the participating leaders.
That’s a contrast to the closing statement from last year’s G-7 summit in Canada, which Trump repudiated.
The professed unity could be important as uncertainty over the course of Trump’s trade conflict with China weighs on the global economy.
The statement was achieved amid disagreement at their summit over the impact of Trump’s trade stance on slowing global trade and industrial activity.
The declaration nods to several of Trump’s issues by calling for “fair” as well as “open” trade. There’s no mention of broader issues such as currencies or fiscal stimulus.
Macron said there will be a meeting next month on the Ukraine conflict with the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.
He said it would be at the chief of state or government level but gave no details.
However, Macron said the G-7 leaders could not agree on whether to invite Russia back into the group of leading democracies.
Trump said he could invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to next year’s G-7 summit, which he wants to hold in Miami.
European officials said that’s premature. The EU wants progress on peace accords for Ukraine first.
Russia was kicked out of the then-G-8 after annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Trump says it’s better to have Russia “in the tent” rather than “outside the tent” of the group of advanced industrialized economies.