European Union leaders round on Trump over trade at G7

Clay Curtis
August 25, 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron, the host, has already made clear that he has little expectation that Trump will join any statement on fighting climate change even as the issue shot to the top of the agenda with the widespread fires in the Amazon.

He was speaking as he arrived at a G7 summit in France, which he said would be a "difficult test of unity and solidarity".

"I am very anxious about the way it's going, the growth of protectionism, of tariffs that we're seeing", Johnson told reporters Saturday.

Except that U.S. President Donald Trump is largely uninterested in worldwide agreements, and some G-7 leaders are seriously hobbled at home by political scandal, low poll numbers or lame duck status.

Trump hit back immediately, raising tariffs still further. Nevertheless, Johnson will have to tread carefully, as the United Kingdom will soon be seeking a trade deal of its own with the USA, should Brexit proceed as planned on October 31. Japan, a key US ally in Asia but also a longtime friend of Iran, which at one time was the source of much of its oil imports, has yet to clarify its stance. Trump avidly supports Brexit but Johnson may not welcome Trump's embrace given the president's unpopularity in London and much of Europe.

The wines themselves might be a sore point, however: Trump has threatened to put US import taxes on French wine to retaliate for France's tax on tech companies like Google and Facebook.

Given Trump's record as a global outlier on issues of trade, climate change and confronting Iran, and his propensity for derailing worldwide confabs with threats and occasionally bellicose rhetoric, diplomats here hope to make progress on the margins, if at all, at sessions in the picturesque seaside town on France's Basque coast.

After ramping up his high-risk trade war with China on Friday, Trump left for the meeting with his Western partners in surf town Biarritz threatening to impose punishing tariffs on French wine.

Mr Morrison is expected to also meet new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and India's leader Narendra Modi during the summit. Johnson is under intense pressure to pull Britain out of the European Union and many see his relationship with the U.S. as key.

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"My message to G7 leaders this week is this: the Britain I lead will be an worldwide, outward-looking, self-confident nation", he said. "We will stand alongside our G7 allies to solve the most pressing global issues".

Mr Macron said he hoped the summit would give the pair the opportunity to discuss "how to fix the situation in terms of trade".

Earlier Saturday thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully from the area to the Spanish border to demand more action against climate change and economic inequality.

Photojournalists take pictures as three protesters tear down a barricade during demonstration in the city of Bayonne, south-west France on August 24, 2019, on the sidelines of the annual G7 Summit.

"It's more money for the rich and nothing for the poor", said Alain Missana, an electrician wearing a yellow vest - symbol of anti-government protests that have rattled France for months.

"Heads of state: act now, Amazonia is burning!" read one banner as the huge crowd rallied under cloudless blue skies in Hendaye, the slogan referring to the wildfires ravaging the world's largest rainforest.

"Under no condition can we agree with this logic", Tusk said. Besides that incident, the protests had been mostly peaceful.

Four police officers were lightly wounded on Friday after protesters fired a homemade mortar near the anti-G7 gathering in Hendaye.

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