Wednesday, February 21

Trump clashes with EU leaders over trade on G7 summit



The G7 summit is poised to end without a formal communique after Donald Trump clashed with European leaders over trade, the environment and Russia .

The US President made clear during working sessions on Friday and over dinner that he is not prepared to concede ground over steel and aluminium tariffs.

He repeatedly highlighted the United States trade deficit with European nations in a variety of sectors, arguing that it showed how unfairly America was being treated.

European leaders in turn united as they accused him of imposing unjustified sanctions and warning that they would ultimately damage the US economy.

There was also a significant impasse over the environment. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, had hoped to make protecting the oceans from pollution one of the key legacies of the G7 but Mr Trump would not agree to the move.

It means that the summit in Quebec will end on Saturday without a formal communique highlighting the policies that the leaders have agreed on. Instead Mr Trudeau is expected to make a chairman’s statement articulating his view of the progress that has been made.

It comes after Mr Trump opened the summit by calling for  Russia to be reinstated to the group, prompting a furious backlash from European leaders led by Theresa May, the Prime Minister.

However there were hopes of a breakthrough in the trade dispute after Mr Trump held what appeared to be positive talks with Emmanuel Macron, the French President.

The principle of a dialogue was agreed this afternoon, a French official told reporters. Everyone agreed, including President Trump.

Something’s going to happen. I think it will be very positive, Mr Trump said, without giving details.

Mr Macron said it was possible to advance the trade issues that have split the US and its allies.

I think, on trade, there is … a way to progress all together, he told reporters after his meeting with Trump. I saw the willingness on all the sides to find agreements and have a win-win approach for our people, our workers, and our middle classes.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, called for a shared dialogue mechanism in a bid to resolve the trade dispute.

It’s highly unlikely there will be a final communique, a G7 official told Reuters.

Mr Trump had set a combative tone before leaving Washington on Friday, saying he was “going to deal with the unfair trade practices” of other G7 members.

But he was more affable after meeting Mr Macron and Mr Trudeau, swapping jokes with the latter before the media though neither budged on their trade positions.

We’ve had really a very good relationship, very special, the US president said of Macron, a day after the two leaders had exchanged terse messages on Twitter. We have little tests every once in a while when it comes to trade.