Trump Spars With G-7 Host Ahead of Summit

Geneva Stokes
June 8, 2018

Canada's premier appeared to have struck up an unlikely friendship with Mr Trump at their first meeting, saying he would never dream of "lecturing" his host even if the United States president's "America First" agenda is anathema to the arch liberal.

"But we don't have high expectations they will influence President Trump", he said.

Mr Trudeau has described the U.S. claim that the tariff decision was taken on national security grounds as "insulting".

Aides say Trump has been focused on his meeting with Kim and views the G-7 summit as a distraction from those preparations.

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 European Union also attends. Trump is set to hold a series of group and one-on-one meetings, including with Trudeau and Macron.

Under Trump, the United States has abandoned its traditional role in the G-7. The Trump administration has also clashed with Canada over his insistence that the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement involving the United States, Canada and Mexico be written to better serve the U.S.

Relations have hit such a low that a key question now is whether the seven countries can agree on a joint statement of priorities at the conclusion of the meeting. France's finance minister described the group as "far more a G-6 plus one than a G-7".

French leader Emmanuel Macron stressed however that the USA was no longer the sole economic superpower in the world and urged other industrialised countries to stick together.

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Or maybe they're just dizzy from the on-again, off-again trade war inside Trump's divided economic team.

The White House tried to play down the differences with Trump's top economic adviser branding the differences as simply a family quarrel. Let them meet; let them discuss. "So, when you talk about this issue you have to look at reality - the reality is that over the last 24 years we have built a very integrated supply chain, which has been good for (the) economy, good for consumers, good for workers on all sides".

World leaders gather today in Quebec, Canada, for a G7 meeting that has been overshadowed by the U.S. decision to impose steel tariffs on allies.

On Thursday, Macron berated Trump for imposing unilateral tariffs on imported steel and aluminium rather than go through global arbitration, and for walking out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran.

European and Canadian leaders have appeared to band together, ready to stand against Trump at the G7 summit.

Pleas by the other member countries for exemptions from the steel and aluminum tariffs, which went into effect on June 1, have fallen on deaf ears in Washington.

The Trudeau Government is scoffing at the idea of scrapping NAFTA negotiations in favour of separate bilateral trade deals. 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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