- President Donald Trump is scheduled to head to Canada for the G7 summit on Friday.
- After criticism from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other G7 leaders, Trump is apparently reluctant to go to the two-day meeting and may send Vice President Mike Pence instead, according to a report from The Washington Post.
- The other G7 members – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom – are likely to bash Trump’s recent tariffs and trade restrictions.
After an intense week of public back-and-forth, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump are set to meet face-to-face in Canada on Friday.
Trump is scheduled to head to Charlevoix, Quebec, for what was supposed to be a two-day G7 meeting to sit down with the leaders of the US’s closest allies. But a new report says the US president is not pleased about the visit.
The Washington Post reported that Trump has privately discussed sending Vice President Mike Pence instead. One of the largest reasons for Trump’s reluctance is the host country, the report said.
An updated White House press pool report sent to news outlets on Thursday suggests Trump intends to shorten the trip. The report notes that, instead of spending two days in Canada, he will leave early Saturday morning and head straight to Singapore for his planned meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Over the past week, Trudeau has been especially critical of Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on imports of Canadian steel and aluminium. The Canadian prime minister has called the move “totally unacceptable” and “insulting” during various media appearances.
In private, the trade battle has strained a once cheery relationship between the two leaders. Trump reportedly joked on a call with Trudeau that the tariffs, which the US imposed under a national-security justification, were necessary because Canada burned down the White House during the War of 1812.
Amid Trudeau’s vocal opposition, Trump is said to have weighed further options designed to crack down on the US’s northern neighbour.
Other reasons for Trump’s reluctance to head to Canada, per The Post, include his poor relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, a distaste for the dressing down he’s likely to receive from foreign leaders on trade, and a desire to focus on a summit with North Korea set for next week.
Aides are concerned that Trump may not agree to the joint statement typically put out by the participating countries at the end of the summit, according to The Post.
Allies are ready to blast Trump’s trade fights
Whether or not Trump attends the G7 meeting, the specter of the president’s belligerent trade policy will linger over the gathering.
Many of the attending members have expressed displeasure with Trump’s tariffs imposed last week. Every other G7 country plans to launch retaliatory tariffs targeting US goods.
There is also some recent precedent for strong condemnation from the member countries. An official statement from the meeting of G7 finance ministers last week made a startling break from the usually staid communiques by specifically calling out the US.
“Concerns were expressed that the tariffs imposed by the United States on its friends and allies, on the grounds of national security, undermine open trade and confidence in the global economy,” the statement said. “Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors requested that the United States Secretary of the Treasury communicate their unanimous concern and disappointment.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to brush off the statement.
“There were many, many areas, not only do we agree on, we’re completely united on,” Mnuchin told reporters.
Meanwhile, France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said the talks were “far more a G6 plus one than a G7.”
A similar chilly reception for Trump’s trade crackdown is expected this weekend. Merkel even predicted as much during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday in Germany’s Parliament.
“It is apparent that we have a serious problem with multilateral agreements here, and so there will be contentious discussions,” Merkel said.
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, tried to downplay the trade divisions during a press briefing on Wednesday.
“There may be disagreements – I regard this as much like a family quarrel,” Kudlow said. “I’m always the optimist. I believe it can be worked out. But I’m always hopeful on that point.”
While he offered a rosy outlook, Kudlow, a former Wall Street economist and CNBC host, also emphasised that Trump did not plan to back down.
“President Trump is very clear with respect to his trade-reform efforts that we will do what is necessary to protect the United States, its businesses, and its workforce,” Kudlow said. “So that we may have disagreements, we may have tactical disagreements, but he has always said – and I agree – tariffs are a tool in that effort.”
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