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Martin expected to join G7 colleagues for US$ discussions in Washington

Peter Morton Washington Bureau Chief

Financial Post, Weekly edition, Saturday, April 26, 1997

Finance Minister Paul Martin is expected to make a brief appearance at Sunday's meeting of finance ministers from the top seven industrialized countries in Washington.

The G7 ministers, meeting in the middle of a week-long World Bank and International Monetary Fund session, will focus on the jump in the US$.

However, Martin will likely return to Ottawa almost immediately if Prime Minister Jean Chretien announces a federal election on Sunday, as is widely expected.

The US$ has risen sharply over the past year, especially against the yen and German mark. The C$ has also eased against the US$ and yesterday closed at US71.56 cents.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said yesterday he had concerns about the strength of the US$, especially against the yen. Since April 1995, the US$ has risen 50% against the yen.

He also repeated that he has no intention of stepping in to prevent a further rise in the US$ even if there is pressure from other G7 ministers.

``It's probably worth noting we have had solid growth in this country for four years, particularly relative to other G7 nations,'' he said.

Besides the US$, the G7 ministers are also expected to touch on other longstanding issues, including the huge gold reserves of the IMF and writing off the debts of poor countries.

A Canadian official said yesterday that it is unlikely any major breakthroughs would come. ``This is a low-key meeting,'' he said.

Trade ministers from Canada, Japan, the U.S. and the European Union are scheduled to meet next Wednesday in Toronto.

The ``Quad'' meeting, held twice a year, generally tries to set an agenda for upcoming trade meetings.

At the top of the agenda is China's admission to the World Trade Organization and talks aimed at getting a global financial services agreement.

Source: This information is provided by the Financial Post.

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