Trump threatens to escalate trade war, on eve of a G-7 summit he doesn't even want to go to

Evan Vucci/AP Photo; Michele Tantussi/Getty Images; Steffi Loos/Getty Images; Randall Hill/Reuters; Vincent Kessler/Reuters; Jenny Cheng/Business Insider
  • President Donald Trump threatened to escalate a trade war with the European Union and Canada – the night before he was to meet their leaders at the G-7 summit.
  • He hit out at the EU and Canada for imposing tariffs on US goods.
  • Trump threatened to impose even more tariffs against those countries if they did not remove barriers to US trade.
  • EU and Canadian leaders also appeared ready to unite against Trump at this weekend’s G-7 summit.
  • Trump reportedly didn’t even want to attend the meeting in the first place.

Just hours before he was to meet with the leaders of several major US allies at the G-7 summit of leading industrial nations in Quebec, President Donald Trump on Thursday night threatened to escalate a global trade war against many of them.

According to reports, Trump is reluctant to attend the meeting at all because of the frosty reception he is expected to get and would rather focus on Tuesday’s planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The president tweeted on Thursday night:

“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!”

Hours earlier, he criticised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom he said was “being so indignant” at the imposition of recent US tariffs, and railed against French President Emmanuel Macron for his alliance with Trudeau.

In a follow-up message he highlighted a Canadian 270% tariff on US dairy as “not fair to our farmers.”

He added that he would use the meeting as an opportunity to start “straightening out unfair trade deals.”

The tweets came as the EU and Canada announced retaliatory tariffs to match the levies on steel and aluminium that were imposed by the US last week.

Trump is nevertheless set to visit Quebec this weekend for the meeting with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Japan, and the EU, which attends the G-7 as its own entity.

According to The Washington Post, Trump complained about having to attend the summit, which he reportedly considered an unwanted distraction from his planned Tuesday summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. He also apparently was not looking forward to being confronted by other G-7 leaders on trade.

Unnamed advisers told the paper Trump also complained about his awkward relationships with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Trump is planning on cutting his trip to Quebec short to go to Singapore for his meeting with Kim.

US allies stand united against Trump

European and Canadian leaders have appeared to band together, ready to stand against Trump at the G-7 summit.

Trudeau met with the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, on Thursday to discuss the EU-Canada trade relationship and discuss “how we can continue to work together to create economic growth that benefits everyone,” in what could be seen as a jab at Trump.

Macron also threatened to leave Trump out of the G-7 alliance. The bloc has isolated members in the past: It suspended Russia from what was then the G-8 alliance in 2014 in response to its annexation of Ukraine.

The French president tweeted on Thursday:

“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.”

He later wrote: “Tensions are growing everywhere. This G7 will be demanding.”

Trudeau MacronStephane De Sakutin (Reuters)Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.

EU, Canadian tariffs target Trump supporters

The EU has announced plans to impose tariffs on about €2.8 billion ($US3.3 billion/£2.5 billion) worth of US imports, which could include blue jeans, bourbon, peanut butter, cranberries, and rice. The bloc is finalising its list, which will go into force in July.

Cranberries and rice are mostly imported from key states that voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

Canada also announced retaliatory tariffs on $US12.8 billion (£9.5 billion) worth of US goods, including steel and aluminium products, mayonnaise, and sleeping bags.

Industrial states in the US Midwest are will be hit hardest by the Canadian tariffs.

Mexico, whose exports were also targeted by the US last week, also announced that it would impose levies on some pork products. It also serves to make a political statement: Ten of the top 15 states for pork exports to Mexico voted for Trump in the 2016 election, according to the Census Bureau.

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