The Group of 7 met this weekend for their annual summit in Quebec. It will have been hard to miss.
Global leaders had managed, over the course of the weekend, to come up with wording ‘to secure American agreement on matters that never used to be in question’ (The Economist, 10.6.18). Initially Trump was pleased, according to the Economist, and said that the ‘summit was wonderful’ as he rated his relationships with global leaders as ‘ten out of ten’. However, soon after leaving early (he had a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in Singapore to attend), he changed his mind. Approximately ten minutes after the agreement was published, Trump told his officials to ‘tear up the bland G7 statement’ and threatened to impose yet more tariffs (FT, 10.6.18). He also said that Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau was ‘very dishonest and weak’ (FT). In Trudeau’s closing statement of the G7 meeting, it was said that Canada would retaliate against the US steel and aluminium tariffs, something that he and Trump had already discussed. This was of course revealed in true Trumpian form, in a tweet, as he was flying over the Pacific en route to Singapore.
Concerns are that Trump’s actions could ignite a global trade war.
Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser: ‘There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with Donald J Trump’ (FT, 11.6.18). The last time I heard this kind of statement was when former US secretary of state, Madeline Albright, said that there was a special place in hell for women who didn’t help other women. I’m not sure she will appreciate being re-quoted by Navarro in this sense.
Leaders of the world, spice up your life…
Justin Trudeau from Canada, where the summit was held, said that the US tariffs were ‘insulting’ and he promised that Canadian tariffs would be imposed on the US in kind.
Emmanuel Macron stressed that an isolated US faces a united front from its allies. He also said that when France makes a commitment, it sticks to it: a snipe at Trump for not doing so.
Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe commented that there were moments of ‘intense debate’ during the summit. He has recently held one on one meetings with Trump over other issues; the threat of North Korea’s ballistic missile reach being one.
Theresa May was deeply disappointed.
Yesterday Angela Merkel said that Trump’s change of heart was ‘sobering and a little depressing’ (BBC, 11.6.18). Merkel, like Trudeau, has also said that they will act to impose tariffs on the US. Regarding NATO, she did admit that Germany had to step up and pay more.
Caption by Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minster and now MEP
Photograph taken by Jesco Denze, the German Cabinet’s official photographer
The EU and Canada have both said that they will retaliate against the US steel tariffs and will impose tariffs in turn against the US on things like bourbon, peanut butter, and the cult motorcycle brand, Harley Davidson.
History of the G7
The G7 is 45 years old. It was established as a response to the global oil shock in 1975, basically with the intention to sort out the economy. Initially there were 7 countries involved: France, Germany (then known as West Germany), America, Japan, the UK and Italy. At that time it was called the G6. The six founding countries adopted a 15 point communique called the Declaration of Rambouillet, this being where the meeting was held: at the Chateau Rambouillet, 50 kilometres south west of Paris. The then French president, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, hosted the first meeting.
Thereafter, the group agreed to meet every year with a rotating presidency. The second meeting was hosted by US President Gerald R Ford in Puerto Rico in 1976 and in 1977, by the then UK Labour prime minister, James Callaghan.
In 1976, Canada joined and the G6 become the G7; then in 1998, Russia, making the group the G8. Russia were expelled from the group in March 2014 as a result of their annexation of Crimea.
Without the US, the G7 nations have less clout. The EU is in turmoil and according to the Guardian, out of the four EU nations at the summit, only France has anything resembling a strong government. In France, Macon’s popularity has slumped.
Next year’s annual summit will be held in Biarritz in the south west of France.
Argentina meanwhile will host the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November later this year.
Yesterday the Guardian said that the US is ‘the cornerstone of the post 1945 international order. If Mr Trump wishes to remove that cornerstone, everything else is threatened. The thankless task of doing what can be done to mitigate Trumpian disruption must continue. But a fissure is growing’ (Guardian, 10.6.18).
Also in yesterday’s editorial piece in the Guardian on the G7, well worth a read in my opinion:
‘The rest of the G7 must try. If not, Europe, Canada and Japan risk becoming standing invitations to humiliation by Russian disruption, Chinese strategic authoritarianism and Trumpian nativism’.
Robert De Niro’s waiting…
Well, he didn’t wait in actual fact. As I watched the video of him at the Tony awards this weekend, I couldn’t help but remember that Bananarama song from the 80s. Here he is denouncing Trump, to the audience’s rapturous delight. Many of the recordings are censored; mine is not, and he is certainly not ‘talking Italian….’
The FT, ‘US relations with closest allies fall to new lows’, 10th June 2018:
The Economist, ‘Donald Trump lobs a grenade from afar into the G7’, 10th June 2018:
‘The Guardian view on Trump and the G7 summit: a watershed moment’, 10.6.18:
Politico, ‘Trump -v- the world’, 11th June 2018:
BBC, ‘G7 summit: Donald Trump lashes out at America’s key allies’, 11th June 2018:
The wording of the G7 communique, initially agreed to by Trump and then rescinded, Reuters, 9.6.18:
History of the G7:
Reuters, Timeline, ‘A history of G7, G20 and foreign exchange’
Origin and Development of the G7 from when Italy hosted in 2017:
The history of the G7 from the Federal Republic of Germany:
Miles apart, Trump and Trudeau at the G7 this weekend:
First G7 meeting in 1975: https://leggeroleggero.com/2017/05/26/guida-leggera-al-g7/
Trump and Merkel at the G7 summit:
Robert de Niro speaking at the Tony Awards this weekend, the uncensored version:
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