U.S., Six Allies Plan Talks on Economic Woes : Meeting Tentatively Set for Early Next Month

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Times Staff Writer

Finance ministers of the United States and its six major economic allies have tentatively decided to meet here within the next few weeks--probably in early February--to discuss global economic problems, it was disclosed Thursday.

Although no major decisions are expected, the group will probably explore new ways to tackle global trade imbalances and to handle the Third World debt problem--issues on which there are growing differences among the seven governments. No changes in current exchange-rate ranges for the dollar and other currencies are expected.

The session will mark the first chance that the “Group of Seven,” as it is known informally, will have to get together after George Bush is inaugurated as President. As usual, the meeting will include central bankers as well as finance ministers.


The decision on the meeting follows a round of concerted intervention in the foreign exchange markets by the seven countries Wednesday, when they apparently successfully stemmed an unexpected rise in the value of the dollar.

The seven nations’ central banks apparently acted quickly before the dollar’s rise got out of hand. Policy-makers in all seven countries fear that an increase in the value of the dollar would impede international efforts to correct the U.S. trade deficit.

The intervention in the markets was worked out by telephone last weekend and at a meeting of central bankers in Basel, Switzerland, on Sunday and Monday.

Britain Last Holdout

Disclosure of the forthcoming G-7 meeting was made early Thursday in London by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson and later in Washington by West German Finance Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg, who is here for an annual visit.

Neither gave a firm date, saying only that the session would be “in the next few weeks,” but monetary sources confirmed later that early February is the most likely time. Britain had been the last holdout to scheduling such a meeting early in the year.

Stoltenberg told reporters here that the session is unlikely to be “spectacular” or even to result in the issuance of a formal communique. Officials said privately that the aim is to keep the affair low-key, to avoid upsetting the financial markets.


However, strategists conceded that the United States is likely to come under new pressure from its allies to reduce its budget deficit more quickly and to revamp its global debt strategy. Both are issues on which Bush has said he is already working.

Besides the United States, the member countries are West Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.