Categories Search

Typhoon Trump blows G7 off course

Video Preview

As host of this year’s G7 summit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to have just one over-arching goal: to get through the gathering without U.S. President Donald Trump blasting it to pieces. Trudeau succeeded — for all of about 90 minutes, reported Politico (Belgium).

Just an hour and a half after Trudeau finished his concluding news conference, an irate Trump tweeted that he had “instructed our U.S. reps not to endorse the Communique” and threatened to impose tariffs on automobiles. He accused Trudeau of making “false statements” to the press.

Other G7 officials said Trump was too late. The communiqué was agreed, the summit done, the leaders packing up or already gone — like Trump himself, who tweeted his fury en route to Singapore to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Technically, the others may be right. But from a political perspective, Trump’s rant — and his proven willingness to tear up international agreements — effectively rendered the leaders’ joint declaration moot.

The G7 thought it had lived to fight another day — even if that fight is increasingly internal, between the U.S. and other members of the club. But it may need to fall back on a statement by French President Emmanuel Macron who, noting differences with Trump, had said, “We don’t mind being six if need be.”

At the most contentious summit in the organization’s 43-year existence, Trump had clashed with the six other leaders of the world’s leading industrialized democracies over trade, stubbornly insisting that his country — the world’s richest — has been victimized and abused by its best friends and allies for decades.

Trump arrived late and left early, and his standoffishness — on trade, climate change, the Iran nuclear deal and other issues — dominated the meeting in Quebec at an elegant château on a bluff over the St. Lawrence River.

The setting was beautiful, but the summit wasn’t pretty.

On his way out, Trump re-upped the trade war that he launched with stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum, threatening to cut off trade entirely with countries that don’t agree to lower tariffs that he views as unfair and unjustified. “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing,” Trump griped at a news conference. “And that ends,” he warned.

However, for the other leaders, vexed by Trump’s disruptiveness and pattern of minimal willingness to negotiate despite claims of being a deal-maker, merely keeping the combustible American at their oval table was a victory.

“What we did this weekend was come together, roll up our sleeves, and figure out consensus language that we could agree to on a broad range of issues,” Trudeau, the summit host, said at his closing news conference.

But the summit seemed to mark an important turning point in how foreign leaders deal with a Washington they feel they can no longer trust. With no overt show of hostility, and in leveled, even understated language, Trump’s colleagues made clear that he was the odd man out, that they thought he was wrong and uninformed, and, especially, that they would not be bullied.

“Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau said.

Canada, like the EU, he said, would move forward with retaliatory tariffs against the United States. And in one of the starkest confrontations with Trump, Trudeau flatly disputed the president’s assertion that a sunset clause, which Canada opposes, would be included in a re-negotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“There will not be a sunset clause,” Trudeau said, explaining that talks were ongoing. And, demonstrating a belief that Trump needs certain points repeated, he later added, “There will be no sunset clause.”

Saying no to Moscow
The de facto G6 were similarly resolute in pushing back against Trump’s assertion that Russia should be re-invited to these gatherings — an idea he put forward unexpectedly as he was leaving the White House on Friday and repeated again during a dinner conversation Saturday night on foreign policy.

Russia was ejected in 2014 for its invasion and annexation of Crimea, but Trump said he wants Russia back anyway.

“We didn’t do votes or anything, but it has been discussed,” he said. “This used to be the G8, not the G7. And something happened a while ago, where Russia is no longer in. I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in.”

He added, “We’re looking for peace in the world. We’re not looking to play games.”

Even new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who had initially expressed support for Trump’s position, retreated and said Russia must first meet its commitments to implement a peace agreement in Ukraine. Pressed about Crimea, Trump unleashed a barrage of criticism against his predecessor Barack Obama but said nothing critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Quebec summit left other leaders, particularly from Europe, increasingly convinced that Trump does not grasp the complexities of global trade — just as he has repeatedly demonstrated little understanding of NATO financing, even as he has badgered allies to increase their military spending.

A photograph tweeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman seemed to sum up the view from Berlin — it showed other leaders standing up around Trump, who was sitting down with his arms folded. Merkel was leaning forward toward Trump, and could easily be interpreted as leading a joint effort to change the U.S. president’s mind.

Nevertheless, the photograph also showed that Trump was the center of attention.

Officials said that there were intense negotiations around the final leaders’ communiqué, which in the end included a reference in its first paragraph to the “rules-based international order” which the Americans initially wanted to remove.

In a concession to the U.S., any reference to the Iran nuclear agreement was removed.

Free trade surprise
Trump surprised the other leaders by proposing that the G7 work toward ending all tariffs, non-tariff trade barriers and government subsidies — an audacious suggestion from a president who has previously expressed deep disdain for free trade agreements and pursued neo-protectionist policies.

“So you go tariff-free, you go barrier-free, you go subsidy-free,” Trump said. “That’s the way you learned at the Wharton School of Finance. I mean, that would be the ultimate thing.”

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, who was with him, portrayed the proposal as a bold move.

“As the president said, reduce these barriers,” Kudlow said. “In fact, go to zero. Zero tariffs. Zero non-tariff barriers. Zero subsidies. And along the way, we’re going to have to clean up the international trading system, about which there was virtual consensus of agreement on that.”

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed skepticism about whether Trump was ready to follow through on his proposal. He switched from French to English in his closing news conference to declare: “Be my guest.” But he also sketched out various trade barriers the U.S. currently deploys against the European Union and noted Trump had just imposed new ones in the shape of the tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Back in his native language, Macron adapted an old figure of speech to say it would take seven to dance that particular tango.

Some Americans were also taken aback by Trump’s proposal.

“If the President is actually serious about leading the expansion of a G7 no-tariff, free-trade agreement, that’s tremendous, tremendous news — for the U.S. and for the free nations of the world,” Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from the farm state of Nebraska, said in a statement.

“I would happily carry his bag to every single meeting of those negotiations,” Sasse said. “But the path to more trade begins with less whining on the global stage. The simple fact is that more trade has been overwhelmingly beneficial to U.S. families and to net U.S. job creation for 75 straight years, and pretending America has been taken advantage of — that is, pretending that we’re losers — isn’t true.”

To the Europeans, it indicated that Trump is fixated on tariffs without taking account of a complex range of regulatory and other issues. In theory, they would love to work with him on ending all tariffs. In reality, they do not think he is serious.

“He comes here in a highly demanding environment, where these people are very skilled,” said one senior European official who observed the discussions with Trump. “And he comes here with a simplistic sort of approach that is tailored to the domestic audience.”

Trump unhappy with EU ‘tax lady’
Trump had particular venom for the EU, which was represented by Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Trump seems to have finally grasped that the Commission handles trade policy on behalf of the entire bloc, and so in the discussion on trade, he turned on Juncker, according to witnesses.

“Jean-Claude, you are so brutal,” Trump said. Later, the U.S. president also complained about the EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, who has imposed major financial penalties on U.S. companies for regulatory and tax violations. Trump did not recall her name, nor did he seem to know her official title.

“Your tax lady,” Trump told Juncker. “She really hates the U.S.”

At his news conference, Trump repeated the complaints about the EU.

“The European Union is brutal to the United States,” he said. “They know it. When I’m telling them, they’re smiling at me. You know, it’s like the gig is up. It’s like the gig is up … There’s nothing they can say. They can’t believe they got away with it.”

But he warned, “It’s going to change. They have no choice. If it’s not going to change, we’re not going to trade with them.”

The final communiqué included some of the group’s traditional language that it will “continue to fight protectionism.”

The statement, like last year’s statement at the summit in Taormina, Sicily, included language on commitment to the Paris climate change accords that did not apply to the United States.

Trudeau hailed the consensus on the declaration as proof that the G7 had persevered amid tough disagreements. But 90 minutes later, after Trump’s tweets, it looked like the leaders had not even managed to do that.

***

The annual G-7 summit appeared to have weathered tensions over President Donald Trump's threats of a tariff-fueled trade war until the mercurial American pulled out of a joint statement while citing "false statements" by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reported Fox News (US).

It was an unprecedented attack on the leader of the U.S. neighbor and ally.

Trump was aboard Air Force One heading to an historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un when he issued a pair of tweets Saturday criticizing the G-7 host and stepping back from the generally positive tone that had ended the two-day meeting. A few hours earlier, Trudeau had told reporters that all seven leaders had come together to sign the joint declaration.

Trudeau said he had reiterated to Trump that tariffs would harm industries and workers on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. He said unleashing retaliatory measures "is not something I relish doing" but that he wouldn't hesitate to do so because "I will always protect Canadian workers and Canadian interests."

"As Canadians, we are polite, we're reasonable, but also we will not be pushed around," Trudeau said, and he described all seven leaders coming together to sign a joint declaration despite having "some strong, firm conversations on trade, and specifically on American tariffs."

In the air by then, Trump tweeted: "Based on Justin's false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!"

He followed up by tweeting: "PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, "US Tariffs were kind of insulting" and he "will not be pushed around." Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!"

A spokesman for Trudeau did not address Trump's insults in a statement. "We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the #G7 summit," spokesman Cameron Ahmad said. "The Prime Minister said nothing he hasn't said before — both in public, and in private conversations with the President."

Reporters asked Trudeau for his reaction as he and his wife and another couple took an evening stroll, but the prime minister begged off. "Good to see you guys ... It's a beautiful evening, a great weekend," he said.

Before leaving for Singapore, Trump had delivered a stark warning to America's trading partners not to counter his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. But Trudeau, whose nation was among those singled out by Trump, pushed back and said he would not hesitate to retaliate against his neighbor to the south.

"If they retaliate, they're making a mistake," Trump declared before departing the annual Group of Seven summit, which includes Britain, Italy, France, Germany and Japan.

Trump himself insisted relationships with allies were a "ten" just before he left the summit. But his abbreviated stay at this Quebec resort saw him continuing the same type of tough talk on trade as when he departed the White House, when he accused Trudeau of being "indignant."

The summit came during an ongoing trade dispute with China and served as a precursor to the unprecedented meeting with Kim, in which Trump has sought to extend a hand to the Asian autocrat who has long bedeviled the international order.

"His message from Quebec to Singapore is that he is going to meld the industrial democracies to his will — and bring back Russia," said Steve Bannon, Trump's former campaign and White House adviser. Bannon said China is "now on notice that Trump will not back down from even allies' complaints in his goal of 'America First.'"

Speaking on Saturday during a rare solo news conference, Trump said he pressed for the G-7 countries to eliminate all tariffs, trade barriers and subsidies in their trading practices. He reiterated his longstanding view that the U.S. has been taken advantage of in global trade, adding, "We're like the piggy bank that everybody's robbing, and that ends."

He said U.S. farmers had been harmed by tariffs and other barriers and warned that U.S. trading partners would need to provide him with more favorable terms. "It's going to stop or we'll stop trading with them," he said.

Trump cited progress on reaching an agreement on the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, saying the final outcome would lead either to an improved trade deal or separate pacts with the two U.S. neighbors. Trump said he was discussing two types of sunset provisions in which any of the countries could leave the deal. A Canadian official said the leaders discussed accelerating the pace of the talks.

But Trudeau objected strenuously to a sunset clause of any length. "If you put an expiry date on any trade deal, that's not a trade deal. That's our unequivocal position," he said.

Prior to his arrival on Friday, the president injected additional controversy by suggesting that the G-7 offer a seat at the table to Russia, which was ousted from the group in 2014. Trump said Saturday that re-admitting Russia to the elite club would be "an asset," telling reporters, "We're looking for peace in the world." Trump said he had not spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a while.

Discussing Russia's absence, Trump made the vague comment that "something happened a while ago where Russia is no longer in. I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in." In fact, Russia was expelled from what was then the G-8 after it invaded and annexed Crimea and for its support for pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine.

Trump placed the blame on his predecessor, President Barack Obama. "He was the one who let Crimea get away — that was during his administration," he said, adding: "Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude."

It was not clear what Trump thought Obama should have done to prevent Putin from sending in Russian troops to seize the Black Sea peninsula from neighboring Ukraine.

Trudeau said he told Trump that readmitting Russia "is not something that we are even remotely looking at at this time."

show source

Rating: (0)
Location: Show map
Location: Show map
Share report:
Share on Facebook
If you want to buy or a sell a report
go to marketplace
Marketplace

Comment report: