19 | MAR | 2019
G7 summit 'commotion' has brought EU closer together
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to U.S. President Donald Trump during the second day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada - Photo: Jesco Denzel/Bundesregierung Handout via

G7 summit 'commotion' has brought EU closer together

La Malbaie, Quebec
David Ljunggren & jean-Baptiste Vey
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Leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations headed for a summit in Canada on Thursday more divided than at any time in the group’s 42-year history

Leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations headed for a summit in Canada on Thursday more divided than at any time in the group’s 42-year history, as U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies risk causing a global trade war and deep diplomatic schisms.

In a bid to rebuild America’s industry, Trump has imposed hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including those from key G7 allies like Canada, Japan, and the European Union.

Trump has threatened to use national security laws to do the same for car imports and has walked back on environmental agreements and an international deal to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the other G7 nations—Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan, as well as France—should remain “polite” and productive but warned that “no leader is forever,” a sign that Europe would not surrender meekly to the U.S. president.

“Maybe the American president doesn’t care about being isolated today, but we don’t mind being six, if needs be,” Macron told reporters. “Because these six represent values, represent an economic market, and more than anything, represent a real force at the international level today.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau predicted “robust discussions” on trade, but other G7 members like Japan and Italy seemed less likely to want to challenge the U.S. president.

Trump left the summit on Saturday morning, before the event concluded, and flew to Singapore for his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, the White House said in a statement late on Thursday.

The G7 leaders met in a luxury cliff-top hotel in the town of La Malbaie, about two hours’ drive from Quebec City. The site was sealed off by police, making demonstrations impossible.

Several hundred protesters—some wearing red flags and red masks—walked noisily through the streets of Quebec City on Thursday evening, heading for the Congress Center where the media are based.

The U.S. president came face-to-face at the gathering with world leaders whose views do not chime with his on a range of issues from trade to the environment as well as Iran and the construction of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Despite the lobbying and pleas, Trump has pressed ahead with tariffs as well as pulling out of the Paris climate accord. Intense diplomacy from Europe to save an international nuclear agreement with Iran also failed.

Trump has also told China, the world’s second-largest economy, to cut its massive trade surplus with the United States. Washington has threatened tariffs on imports of Chinese goods unless Beijing stops stealing American companies’ intellectual property.

Economically, Europe may have more to fear if Trump does go for auto tariffs.

Its recovery from the 2008-2009 financial crisis has been far slower than that of the United States where the Federal Reserve is on the cusp of another interest rate rise while the European Central Bank is still using crisis-era measures.

Financial markets around the world were battered by Trump’s trade threats. They have recovered somewhat, but are still vulnerable and Italy’s new government is also a risk. Trump may have less to fear than slow-growing Europe and Japan from a trade war in terms of economic losses if the “G6” pushes back on tariffs.


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