By Agence France-Presse
Europe and hosts Canada warned US President Donald Trump on Thursday they will not be intimidated at the G7 summit, despite the threat of a trade war between Western allies.
With the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies due in Quebec within hours, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned the US leader that they would not roll over.
And France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who met Trudeau in Ottawa before they headed on to the summit, said he would rally support from his British, German and Italian counterparts before they all sit down with Trump.
The US president, who met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington before the summit, is more preoccupied by his next engagement — next week’s historic nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
But before leaving Washington, he made clear that he too has no intention of backing down on his strategy to rebalance trade flows by imposing tariffs on steel, aluminum and other goods imported from US allies.
His stance will receive such a hostile reception from the other leaders that some observers have suggested renaming the G7 summit the G6+1 — and Macron said they should not hesitate to reach agreements without Trump.
“The G7 is an opportunity for us to get together and have frank, open discussions among nations who have long been allies and friends,” Macron told reporters, with Trudeau at his side.
“There will be subjects on which the (US) president is not totally in sync with the others — I’m thinking of course of climate change and trade,” the French leader said.
“Our common goal is to try to find a text that can be signed by everyone,” he explained, but added that European leaders would not surrender ground simply to obtain Trump’s signature on a G7 consensus.
But Trump is not going to bend.
“Getting ready to go to the G-7 in Canada to fight for our country on Trade (we have the worst trade deals ever made),” he tweeted Thursday.
All-out trade war
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had already admitted it will be difficult to even agree on wording for the traditional joint communique at the two-day meeting.
Merkel said Wednesday there would be “no compromise for its own sake” and dropping the statement “may be the more honest way.”
Canada’s Trade Minister Francois Philippe Champagne was even more blunt, declaring: “What we are seeing is that the world economic order is under pressure, under attack.”
Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow opposed tariffs before joining Trump’s team, but now says he agrees the trade status quo hurts America.
“Until we can have reciprocal relationships, we will not have free trade, and we will not have fair trade,” Kudlow said.
End of the world order
The G7 developed in part because the world’s rich powers — despite their Cold War victory — became frustrated working through the broader multilateral system with lesser rivals.
The globalized economy they helped build had both winners and losers but, until Trump’s election, the United States was seen as the system’s uncontested leader and a major beneficiary.
But now, according to Laurence Nardon of the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), one of the main actors on the international stage is no longer following the same script.
“It completely calls into question the international system,” she told AFP. “This G7 summit is a new act in the drama. So far, the six are standing strong, but Trump has not finished.”
Since coming to office in January 2017, Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal and the TPP Pacific free trade deal.
The summit begins Friday in La Malbaie, in Charlevoix, north of Quebec, and runs until Saturday, when Trump flies on to Singapore.