About twelve hours from now, the leaders of the world’s richest economies will congregate in Quebec, Canada to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern. The countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States are also security allies and have been since WWII.
However, the meeting on June 8 is unlikely to be filled with the usual bonhomie and cheer which has marked previous G7 meetings as the elephant in the room is going to be U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium products imported from these countries into the U.S. The decision is expected to impact manufacturing jobs in Canada, UK, Germany and France which supply customised steel products to American factories.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau already met in Quebec and put up a united front on a range of issues on which Trump has increasingly become the outlier since assuming office. The list of issues range from climate change, trade and to the JCPOA deal to deter Iran’s nuclear proliferation. They denounced Trump’s trade tariffs on steel and aluminum as “unacceptable,” “counterproductive” and “ridiculous” in Trudeau’s words.
The French President who usually tweets in French, made an exception by tweeting in English and targeted his tweet at Donald Trump saying, “The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force," Macron tweeted.
The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force https://t.co/UA86fcjozs
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 7, 2018
Macron’s strong words follow a day after Canada’s Trudeau had a “terrible” phone call with Trump on the issue of tariffs. Trudeau reportedly asked Trump how tariffs could be imposed on Canada on "national security" grounds. Trump reportedly responded: "Didn't you guys burn down the White House?" Trudeau later in the joint press conference with Macron on Thursday said, "This is ridiculous to think we could be a threat to national security. In fact, we are the closest friends the United States has had in quite some time."
The U.S. President aware of the opposition to the position he has taken tweeted out in the evening, targeting Macron and Trudeau. He accused the U.S. allies of levying "massive tariffs" and creating "non-monetary barriers."
Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
Why isn’t the European Union and Canada informing the public that for years they have used massive Trade Tariffs and non-monetary Trade Barriers against the U.S. Totally unfair to our farmers, workers & companies. Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2018
But, despite the strong opposition the U.S. allies probably find themselves in a bind as to which issue is it that they would want Donald Trump to capitulate on. If they focus on trade it is hardly possible that Trump would agree to make any exceptions to sanctions for European business dealing with Iran and it is hardly likely that these countries will let go of such a political issue as trade tariffs. There is already news coming in that Trump is likely to miss the meeting for climate change, another issue the G6 countries had hoped to talk to the U.S. President about.
Within 500 days of becoming U.S. President, Donald Trump seems to have alienated his country’s historical allies while he seems to be growing closer to countries like China – after banning telecom manufacturer ZTE, Trump has reportedly agreed to lift the ban despite concerns from his security department about letting ZTE operate on U.S. soil.