G7 left in disarray as US escalates trade conflict

Imports and Exports | 11 June 2018

The latest G7 meeting has ended in chaos after US President Donald Trump refused to endorse a joint communique due to ongoing disagreements over trade.


The latest meeting of the G7 nations has ended in disarray and recriminations due to the ongoing trade dispute between the US and its traditional allies.

US President Donald Trump has refused to endorse the official communique of the 44th G7 summit, which took place in La Malbaie, Quebec, and subsequently compounded this decision by issuing harsh criticisms of what he perceives to be unfair global trade practices that benefit other countries at the expense of the US.

The communique was designed to unite the leaders of the US, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Japan in a joint commitment on several multilateral issues, including the need to support free trade and oppose protectionism. French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel had specifically hoped the joint pledge would help to defuse some of the recent tensions arising from the US decision to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

To this end, the statement laid out a mutual pledge to promote "free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade" and "to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies". President Trump initially agreed to support the communique, but subsequently reversed the decision, to the surprise and disappointment of the other G7 nations.

This belligerent stance was then reinforced by a series of statements from Mr Trump and other members of his administration. The Republican president accused the US's allies of treating America like "the piggy bank that everybody is robbing", while national security security adviser John Bolton said Mr Trump had "made it clear" that this will no longer be the case.

Mr Trump went on to lambast Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau for his criticisms of the US trade tariff policy, calling his Canadian counterpart "very dishonest and weak", while stating that his protectionist policies are necessary because "Canada is charging massive tariffs to our US farmers, workers and companies".

In response to these statements, the remaining G7 nations have reaffirmed their own commitment to the goals set out in their joint communique, but concerns are mounting that the future viability of the G7 organization could now be in doubt.