G7 leaders set to clash with combative Trump over tariffs, trade

Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau

The Group of Seven is kicking off with more Donald Trump threats on trade, cueing up a whirlwind 24 hours of talks between allies before the US president leaves early.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron, a leader who is usually friendly with Trump, implied that the liberal worldwide alliance doesn't need the United States to make a deal.

Macron said he and Trudeau discussed their "common vision of the world", adding that "this period is marked by great challenges" - part of their pre-G7 united front, marked by the French president tweeting Wednesday of his country's "convergence" with Canada. They had a brief, cordial exchange at the summit site overlooking the St. Lawrence River. "But he doesn't bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy - hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture", the USA president said.

Earlier this month, the White House announced that it would no longer exempt Canada, the European Union, and Mexico from punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum, citing national security and concerns of unfairness. President Obama duly left such a letter for President Trump, as President Bush did eight years earlier.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Trump at the White House on Thursday where the focus was Trump's unprecedented meeting with the North Korean leader scheduled for Singapore next week.

"The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be", Macron tweeted.

"Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the USA and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things ... but he doesn't bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300 per cent on dairy - hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!" But Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum - and eventually other goods, such as German luxury cars - have pushed G7 members to the brink of all-out trade war.

"There are disagreements", top White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow acknowledged.

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"We're going to deal with the unfair trade practices".

But let's face it, in a $628 billion mutual trade relationship a $12 bn surplus on either side is trivial and certainly not worth having a trade war about.

Before leaving Washington this morning, Mr Trump caused fresh controversy by suggesting Russian Federation should be invited back into the G7, to reform the G8, after Vladimir Putin was kicked out in 2014 after his annexation of Crimea.

Trump has also seemed less than enthusiastic about the meetings, questioning if he even needs to attend.

"A rocky summit to begin with already, is likely to be a bit rockier", explains Carleton University Political Scientis Elliott Tepper, who says Trump's actions may leave the United States isolated. Canada has countered with a plan to impose tariffs of its own on US metals and other consumer goods.

The Trump administration at one point granted Canada and Mexico a last-minute reprieve from tariffs in March as negotiations to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, continued.

But they also made it clear that won't keep them from pushing Trump to end the tariffs, which they brand as illegal and bad for everyone's economy.

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