Last year, at the G7 Summit in Italy, U.S. President Donald Trump followed behind in a golf cart, as leaders of six other industrialized nations took a short stroll.
Many said it symbolized Trump’s disconnect from America’s natural economic allies. One year later, that distance may be more than just symbolic.
CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.
This month, the Trump administration announced it was slapping import duties on steel and aluminum originating in Canada, this year’s G7 host. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it insulting.
“These tariffs are unacceptable,” Trudeau said. “For the past 150 years, Canada has been the most solid partner in the United States, and it is inconceivable.” Trudeau threatened to slap back dollar-for-dollar tariffs on the U.S. “We have to believe that common sense will prevail at some point, but we do not currently see any signs on the part of the United States.
The Trump administration also refused to exempt the European Union from the tariffs. The moved has angered Brussels and Berlin, Europe’s biggest economy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has not been able to rein-in the American president on trade. Nor diplomacy. She flew to Washington in April, urging Trump to not scrap the Iran nuclear deal. He did so anyway.
Her trip came just days after a similar voyage made by French President Emmanuel Macron. He, too, was unsuccessful. That’s despite his “bromance” with Trump, as some have dubbed their relationship. But a recent call between the two was described as “terrible.” And last week, the French Finance Minister warned: the U.S. – under Trump – was isolating itself. “America First,” some say,” has become “America alone.”
Trump angered the French just days after the last G7, by pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. He was due to meet Trudeau and Macron on the sidelines of the G7.
The French and Canadian leaders met this week, in part, to sort out the G7 agenda. Clean energy is officially a part of it. So is gender-equality. And economic growth … for all. Many are asking if the U.S. will get behind the Summit’s goals.
This week’s summit also comes just days before Trump heads to another meeting in Singapore. There, he’ll sit face-to-face with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un. The G7 meeting will give Trump another chance to assuage fears from Japan – the group’s only Asian member – that its interests in the region are being sidelined in exchange for Washington’s. Tokyo is pressing the Trump administration to help secure the release of Japanese nationals being held in the DPRK.
Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, likened the distance between his boss and the other leaders on trade to a family quarrel. “Don’t blame Trump,” Kudlow said this week. “Blame nations that have broken away from those conditions” [of free-trade policies]. “Trump’s trying to fix this broken system,” he added.
But there are powerful incentives for these seven countries to get along. They make up nearly half of the world’s GDP, and have essentially served as the foundation of the global economy since the end of the Cold War. With disputes heating up between G7 members, that stability is under threat.
Sanctions, trade and the DPRK: Afshin Molavi discusses global tensions
To help us sort through major issues around the world, CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to Afshin Molavi. He’s a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute. He’s also a Co-Director of the Emerge85 Lab, which explores ‘non-Western’ global economic influences.