G7 Summit: Macron talks tough as Trump plans blunt force diplomacy in Canada

World leaders will make clear their opposition to proposed tariffs from Mr Trump, while attempting to avoid a broader international trade war

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 08 June 2018 17:44 BST
Emmanuel Macron lashes out at Donald Trump in speech ahead of G7

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that no leader lasts forever ahead of Group of Seven (G7) summit in Canada as attendees look to take up more confrontational stance against US President Donald Trump in the wake of a trade spat that has left Washington isolated.

Mr Macron spoke alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday just a day before the summit in Charlevoix, Canada is to open up, saying that they will push back against Mr Trump’s "America First" policies to keep the international order intact.

“You say the US President doesn't care at all. Maybe, but nobody is forever,“ Mr Macron said. ”The six countries of the G7 without the United States, are a bigger market taken together than the American market.“

“There will be no world hegemony if we know how to organise ourselves. And we don't want there to be one,” he continued.

This year’s G7 summit — which consists of the US, France, the UK, Japan, Germany, Italy, and Canada — is expected to be dominated by Mr Trump’s approach to international diplomacy, which diverts markedly from past American presidents, and appears less concerned with international consensus than it is with wielding US power like a blunt instrument to appeal to the president’s supporters back home and to try and bend other countries to his will.

Mr Trump’s willingness to project his comfort with breaking international norms and upsetting allies has already had a notable impact: While the diplomats in charge of negotiating a joint statement from the countries at the end of the summit usually have the general language of the thing put together, it is not currently known whether the countries will be able to find enough common ground for a joint statement at all this year.

The US president tweeted that he was "looking forward to seeing" other international leaders at Friday's summit to discuss trade, singling out his French and Canadian counterparts in particular for what he said were "massive tariffs" imposed by their respective countries on American imports.

A central concern for the bloc of countries — which together represent some 62 per cent of the world’s net worth, 46 per cent of the world’s GDP, and 32 per cent of the world’s purchasing power — is Mr Trump’s imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, which have aggravated relationships between the US and its international partners.

Concerned countries have scrambled to negotiate with the United States, and avoid those sorts of measures — and the ripple effect that those tariffs could have for the broader market.

Mr Trudeau, whose government has been negotiating with the US over those tariffs and over the North American Free Trade Agreement, has called the idea of tariffs “insulting”.

“American jobs are on the line because of his actions and because of his administration,” Mr Trudeau said at the joint news conference on Parliament Hill. “When we can underscore this, and we see that there's a lot of pressure within the US, perhaps he will revise his position.”

But protests from leaders in the G7 appear unlikely to sway Mr Trump’s opinion, a fact highlighted by reports of a recent phone call between Mr Trudeau and the American leader in which the president tried to justify his argument that tariffs are necessary for American national security by referencing the 1814 burning of the White House — even though the British, not the Canadians, had started those flames.

“We know there will certainly be frank and at times difficult conversations around the G7 table,” Mr Macron told reporters Wednesday. “Particularly with the American president on trade, on tariffs.”

Both Mr Macron and Mr Trudeau spoke about remaining polite during the frank discussions that will be coming at the G7 summit, but is clear that Washington's allies are not looking to be a pushover.

“Since the beginning, I have done what Canadians expect of their prime minister. I have been polite and respectful. But I've always been very firm on Canada's interests and our values as well. This approach will continue,” Mr Trudeau said.

The summit will mark Mr Trump’s first visit to Canada since becoming president, though it is not clear that he will stay for the duration of the meetings as he is set to fly to Singapore next week historic bilateral negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over that country’s nuclear program.

The last major rift at a G7 summit came during the presidency of George W Bush, when the United States was freshly at war in Iraq. But, unlike those disagreements, the UK is not even coming to the defence of the US — Mr Trump’s “America First” policies have put the country in an America-only position among its peers.

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