Trump, Trudeau swap jokes but hold firm in trade dispute

10 June, 2018, 02:16 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • May will try to persuade Donald Trump to reverse his steel and aluminium tariffs

US President Donald Trump railed against trade practices he called unfair to the United States at a Group of Seven nations summit where leaders agreed on Saturday to fight protectionism and reform the World Trade Organisation.

President Trump earlier told reporters he had proposed the idea of a tariff-free G7 to other leaders and described his talks with them as "extremely productive".

A statement from the G7 finance ministers specifically called out the United States for its policies.

"We're talking to all countries", Trump said, denouncing what he said were huge existing tariffs on USA exports around the world.

The German statement seems to fly in the face of what Trump said in his closing press conference in Quebec where he vowed to ramp up combative trade actions - even against some of his country's closest allies - or curtail trade altogether if partners can not agree to more favourable terms for America.

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Trump, who angered Washington's top allies last week when he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the European Union and Mexico, issued a broad indictment of global trade, with swipes at the G7 and India.

He later said, "It's going to stop, or we'll stop trading with them". He called many current tariffs on USA goods and services "ridiculous".

"Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the USA and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things", Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.

The leaders discussed the question of Russias inclusion in the group but reached no conclusion, Trump said.

At one point, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was seen having a brief, intense one-sided conversation with a stony-faced Trump on Friday. "European Union treats us very unfairly". Canada and Mexico, the other members of the 1994 pact, have been frustrated by the slow pace of talks to renegotiate NAFTA.

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LATE NIGHTThe leaders worked late into the night on Friday at the luxurious and tightly secured riverside hotel where the summit is being held, with the White House tweeting a photo showing the leaders huddled around a coffee table at 11:20 p.m. ET, looking at what appeared to be a draft document marked up with highlighter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not wait for the US president to kick off the meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec.

"We're either going to have NAFTA in a better negotiated form or we're going to have two deals", the USA president said.

Russia was ousted from the elite group in 2014 as punishment for Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea, and its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. The top Nafta negotiators from the United States and Canada met earlier during the summit, after Trump in the morning complained about what he called the unfair trading practices of his Nafta partners, also including Mexico.

"We're not going to be able to do that work under the threat of tariffs".

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Trump, who left the summit in La Malbaie early ahead of his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesaday, told reporters the United States needed protectionist tariffs because "we are like the piggy bank that everyone is robbing". Both Moscow and Trump have denied the allegations.

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