Trump’s Trade War Throws Traditionally Unified G7 Into Chaos
It is not enough that Donald Trump has destroyed some of the most important international agreements in the democratised West. Trump is now moving on to the next stage of his grand plan.
With just a few days to go before the leaders of the world’s seven largest and most advanced economies meet in Canada, the G7 organizers have a serious problem.
Trump has thrown out the agenda and by all accounts is making it near on impossible to agree even on the agenda itself. The effort has taken diplomats months and at the last moment Trump’s team say it’s all about America – not the G7.
This year’s annual gathering is the day after tomorrow in Quebec, Canada and according to senior officials in the US and Europe, an unprecedented division remains on what joint statements can be issued. In other words, they don’t know what they will be discussing because they can’t agree on it and therefore can’t prepare a set of unified statements either before or after the event.
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As Trump has already blown the unified approach idea, for instance, the Paris climate agreement, Iran nuclear deal, increasing tensions over NATO – the new disruptive force that resides in the White House has effectively torn up the global consensus that existed – leaving speech writers and diplomats scratching their heads at arguably one of the most important meetings in the political calendar.
If ever there was any doubt that Donald Trump was going to cause trouble to the world order as we knew it – that idea should have vapourised completely by now, because if the G7 cannot find any common ground with which to agree upon – then the disharmony is both deafening on the one hand and damaging to the other.
The whole premise that the biggest powers in the West are ideologically aligned has historically been a pre-agreed arrangement emphasised by this all-powerful group.
Politico reports that:
“The Canadians have no idea what to do,” one adviser to a G7 leader said on condition of anonymity. A second aide — a diplomat for a different G7 leader who has been working on the agenda for months — said they have never been this close to a summit without having general agreement on what leaders would say coming out of it.
A third official working for another administration involved in the summit said the talks have been “disconnected and unfocused.”
One senior aide said: “At the moment there’s nothing. It’s just about being nice to women, which is fine, but is that it?”
According to some reports, Justin Trudeau, the Canadian PM wanted the agenda to include climate change, women’s empowerment, peace and economic growth. These goals, more or less backed by other leaders was ‘binned’ with Trump’s “America First’ list of discussion topics.
As of this week so far, there was no agreement on either the final communiqué signed by all leaders or the meeting agenda as has been the norm since they first started meeting in 1997.
One official for a G7 country said that the original communiqué was dropped because the agenda included topics that weren’t signed off by all the diplomats involved.
In a statement, Chantal Gagnon for the Trudeau government said:
“The seven most advanced economies are facing the same challenge: How do we create growth that benefits everyone, including the middle class and people working hard to join it.” “The G7 leaders have all been elected, one way or another, on a commitment to make the economy work for everyone, not just for the few, not just for the wealthy.”
Well, on that point, the G7 has emphatically failed for years – hence the reason for Trump, Brexit, Italy, Austria et al.
In the meantime, as we at TruePublica stated weeks ago and Reuters reiterated this week, the threat of trade wars has turned the G7 into six plus Trump.
“What this G7 is going to show is that the United States are alone against everyone and especially alone against their allies,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
The crux of this meeting is unity. Will the G7 remain so or will Trump’s agenda divide them. University of Ottawa international affairs professor Roland Paris, who served as Trudeau’s first foreign policy adviser, has a less upbeat view. “The primary challenge for this summit is to maintain the integrity of the G7 itself. There is the real possibility of a more open rupture.”
Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow described the tensions over trade as a family quarrel. “This thing can work out. I’m the optimist,” he told reporters last week without providing a hint on what that optimism was based.
We’ll see what the final statements say after the meeting. The language will tell us everything.