This weekend’s G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada could hardly have gone worse.
Even a boilerplate communiqué, which reiterated the rich nations’ commitment to free and fair trade, was undermined at the last minute, when American president Donald Trump repudiated the text.
Trump accused the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, of being “dishonest and weak” for pointing out that America’s excuse for imposing aluminum and steel tariffs on his country — that they pose a national security threat to the United States — makes no sense.
“Canadians are polite and reasonable, but we will also not be pushed around,” Trudeau said.
Bizarrely, Trump admitted that he levied the tariffs in response to Canadian dairy protections — not for security reasons — and yet he called Trudeau a liar.
Trump’s admission would make the tariffs illegal. If there were no security grounds for them, then he should have run them by Congress for approval. Don’t hold your breath for Republicans to do anything, though. The party of free trade has entirely surrendered to Trump’s doctrine of “America First”.
In other summit highlights, Trump:
- Threatened tariffs on foreign cars, most of which are actually built in the United States;
- Threatened to stop trading with the EU altogether unless the bloc reins in its “brutal” trade policies; and
- Undermined Western solidarity by arguing for Russia’s reentry in the club of top industrial nations, despite its continued occupation of Crimea and other parts of southeastern Ukraine.
Insult America’s allies, harm trade and rehabilitate Russia — Vladimir Putin couldn’t have asked for a better friend in the White House.