President Donald Trump is heading into the G-7 meeting in Canada with a sense of tension between the U.S. and the other countries, like the U.K., Italy, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan, according to the BBC. Among the topics with which the other six countries take issue with Trump are recently-imposed trade tariffs and his call on Friday for Russia to once again be included in the annual meeting.
“Why are we having a meeting without Russia? Would recommend Russia should be a part of it. You know, whether you like it or — and it may not be politically correct — but we have a world to run and in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in.”
Russia was removed from the former G-8 as a result of their annexation of Crimea in 2014. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated Friday that all members except Trump agreed that Russia should not be allowed back in until there was progress with Ukraine. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed a less than enthusiastic response to the thought of being brought back into the fold.
The G-7 member countries account for over 60 percent of the world’s net worth. As such, economics is often at the top of the agenda, and this year is expected to be no different. Tariffs are expected to be the center of conversation on this topic. Among those tariffs is a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imported from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. This month, President Trump lifted an exemption for U.S. allies in hopes that they would negotiate new trade agreements, according to Fox News.
Both Canada and France have called this move illegal. CNN Money explains the basis for this claim. Countries have the ability to challenge tariffs via a panel of judges at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Switzerland. The WTO allows the imposition of tariffs if national security is threatened. Trump claims that trade with U.S. allies who were previously exempt from steel and aluminum tariffs did pose a threat to national security because trade relations with those countries has resulted in the loss of approximately 4.6 million jobs since 2000.
Many economists question whether this poses a threat to national security, but, as trade expert at the Economic Policy Institute Robert Scott says, “The WTO can’t really force you to change your trade policy.” In fact, they have never ruled on such a case because either the tariff was dropped or the cases never moved forward. No previous case has been as significant as President Trump’s though.
The five topics of discussion at this year’s G-7 summit are expected to be inclusive economic growth, gender equality and the empowerment of women, world peace and security, the future of jobs, and climate change and oceans. Trump is expected to attend for the topic of economic growth, but is likely to not be present for discussions on gender equality and climate change.
“I may leave a little bit early,” Trump said. “It depends on the timing and it depends on what happens here. All of these countries have been taking advantage of us. We have to straighten it out. We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We have to straighten it out.”
European Council President Donald Tusk has expressed a concern about Trump’s positions on climate change, Iran, and trade.
“What worries me most however is the fact that the rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly not by the usual suspects but by its main architect and guarantor: the U.S.,” Tusk said.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has asked EU members to react to U.S. tariffs with restraint.