G7 summit fails to calm trade tensions as Trump refuses to endorse joint statement | News | DW | 09.06.2018
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G7 summit fails to calm trade tensions as Trump refuses to endorse joint statement

US President Donald Trump refused to endorse a joint communique after G7 members appeared to have agreed on "rules-based" trade. The German government says it stands by the document despite Trump's rejection.

Leaders of the G7 appeared to have agreed on a final communique at the end of a contentious two-day summit in Canada on Saturday — then US President Donald Trump lashed out at Canada and created further uncertainty over trade.

Despite Trump's retraction, Germany stands by the jointly agreed G7 communique, a government spokesman said on Sunday. 

The summit between the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Britain and Italy was one of the most fractious ever, and the agreement on a final communique could not paper over differences on trade, the environment and the international nuclear deal agreed with Iran in 2015.

Read moreDonald Trump calls for barrier-free trade within the G7

'Kind of insulting'

Despite Trump's recent decision to slap aluminum and steel tariffs on allies, the statement at the conclusion of the summit called for the "free, fair and mutually beneficial trade," fighting protectionism and "the crucial role of a rules-based international trading system."

Yet a deep rift was highlighted as host Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended the summit by saying he would move forward with retaliatory tariffs against the United States starting on July 1. He called US tariffs under the pretext of national security "kind of insulting" and said Canada would not be "pushed around." 

"What we did this weekend was come together, roll up our sleeves and figure out a consensus language that we could all agree to," Trudeau said at a press conference, recognizing that there were major differences with Trump. "If the expectation was that a weekend in beautiful Charlevoix surrounded by lovely people was going to transform the president's outlook on trade and the world, then we didn't quite perhaps meet that bar."  

Only hours later Trump took to Twitter to assault the Canadian prime minister's "false statements" and instructed representatives to renege on the US's endorsement of the joint communique. He also said he would be looking to impose tariffs on car imports into the United States. 

Trudeau's office responded later, stating that officials were focused on what was accomplished at the G7 summit and that the prime minister had said nothing at the press conference that he hadn't mentioned before — "both in public, and in private conversations with the president."

US isolated 

Although Trump called his relationship with the six other countries "outstanding," the summit showed that the United States is increasingly isolated. Trump repeatedly insisted that allies would yield to his trade demands and that Washington would crush any opposition in a potential trade war.

The president appeared to get one concession when the G7 agreed to "modernize the WTO to make it more fair as soon as possible." Trump has repeatedly criticized the World Trade Organization as a disaster for the United States.

Read more:  Donald Trump divides G7 over trade and threats to international order 

Before Trump pulled out of the final communique, French President Emmanuel Macron said the other members had put up a united front against the United States. 

"Trump did not want to be isolated," Macron said. "We managed to convince Trump that six plus one was feasible and he did not want that."

"This G7 does not put an end to all our disagreements, but, in a context of tension, it did allow us to preserve unity wherever that was possible," he said. "The fact that we weren't ready to downgrade our positions allowed us to have a better result than we might have hoped for."

Iran and climate

Though the final communique, apparently with just the G6 signing on, expressed members commitment to the idea that Iran will "never seek, develop or acquire a nuclear weapon," there appeared to be little to close the gap between the US and its allies on contentious issues surrounding trade and investment with country. 

The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May and is set to impose sanctions that have left EU leaders scrambling to protect businesses in their countries and save the accord.

On climate change, the G7 failed to find consensus after the United States withdrew from the Paris climate accord last year. The G7 minus the United States agreed to cooperate on climate change.

The United States was also the only outlier on the issue of protecting the environment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the United States was the only G7 member that refused to commit to eliminating plastic waste, which has been devastating the world's oceans.

"The United States is in favor of protecting the oceans in principle, but they do not want to participate in quantifiable goals in that regard," Merkel said.

Read more: EU unveils plan to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030

cw/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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