Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

G7 Meeting Fails to Yield Action for Jobless


LILLE, France -- The Group of Seven leading industrialized nations said Tuesday economic growth was crucial to reduce unemployment, but structural reforms and better core labor standards were also necessary.

Economy and labor ministers agreed after a two-day conference that there was no universal cure for the G7's 22 million jobless, and tried to chart a new course between Anglo-Saxon free-marketeers and more interventionist Europeans.

French President Jacques Chirac had called the meeting of G7 nations -- the United States, Canada, Britain, Italy, Germany, Japan and France -- to help beat unemployment in face of technological change and global trade liberalization.

"Strong growth will undoubtedly help to reduce unemployment. But much will still remain to be done to address the structural problems which impede job creation and income growth," said a final statement by the French hosts in the city of Lille.

Ministers urged better core labor standards worldwide, called for a study of their ties to international trade and reaffirmed their commitment to pursuing open trading policies.

"To that end, we call on trade ministers to maintain the momentum of trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization [WTO] at the WTO ministerial conference in Singapore in December.

"We also note the importance of enhancing core labor standards around the world, and examining the link between these standards and international trade in appropriate fora," the statement said.

Core labor standards cover trade union rights and discrimination and prevent the employment of children and forced labor by prisoners.

Ministers agreed that vigorous, sustainable and noninflationary growth could only be achieved in the context of healthy public finances. But tax and social security systems needed to be adapted to "make work pay."

"In those European countries where high indirect labor costs have contributed to unemployment among the unskilled, social charges bearing on unskilled labor should be lowered where appropriate," the statement said.

European Economic Affairs Commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy said the main message was that "global trade liberalization is inevitable" but people should not fear it.

"We have to show people we have put measures in motion to make sure this liberalization does not create difficulties."

The final statement steered clear of a proposal backed by the United States, France and the European Commission, governing body of the European Union, to make G7 jobs talks regular two-yearly events. The last such jobs talks took place in Detroit two years ago.

The meeting was held as trade unions and left-wing groups staged a "counter-G7" conference to protest against the G7's deficit-fighting policies which they blamed for killing jobs.

One unemployed woman said she was asking "these gentlemen in ties" to share the lot of the jobless for a time. "Why don't they come and share in our begging, squatting and misery?"

European G7 nations, plagued by average 11 percent jobless rate, cast envious glances at the United States' 5.5 percent unemployment and massive 705,000 February increase in new jobs.

The seven governments stressed the need for further cutting deficits and creating noninflationary growth while providing training in high-technology industries, strategies already in place in most G-7 nations.

Despite the plea by Chirac to find a "third path" between unbridled U.S. free-market economics and European welfare protection, the final statement said "there is no single solution that fits all." ()