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Monday, 20 May 2019

Trump rails against 'unfair' trade at G7 leaders summit

'We're like the piggy bank everybody is robbing,' the US president said at a press conference shortly before leaving the gathering of the US, Canada, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan

Reuters , Saturday 9 Jun 2018
G7 LEADERS
U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Que., on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (REUTERS photo).
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U.S. 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 Organization.

"We're like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing," Trump said at a press conference shortly before leaving the gathering of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan. "It's going to stop now or we'll stop trading with them (other nations)."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged differences between the United States and the six other members of the G7 remained, but said a joint statement on trade was expected to be issued at the end of the two-day summit in La Malbaie, Quebec.

"For us, it was important that we have a commitment for a rule-based trade order, that we continue to fight against protectionism and that we want to reform the WTO," Merkel told reporters.

Germany along with other European Union members, Canada and Mexico were stung last week when Trump imposed tariffs on imports of their aluminum and steel to the United States.

The German leader said there was broad agreement among G7 leaders that tariffs and other trade barriers should be reduced. "These are jointly shared principles, although the pitfalls lie in the details," she said.

"For us, it was important that we have a commitment for a rule-based trade order, that we continue to fight against protectionism and that we want to reform the WTO," Merkel said.

Trump, who repeated that the tariffs are meant to protect U.S. industry and workers from what he describes as unfair international competition, said he had suggested to the other G7 leaders that all trade barriers, including tariffs and subsidies, be eliminated.

He denied that the summit had been contentious, a remark that contradicted what one G7 official described as an "extraordinary" exchange on Friday.

Trump repeated a list of grievances about U.S. trade, mainly with the EU and Canada, a French presidency official told reporters.

"And so began a long litany of recriminations, somewhat bitter reports that the United States was treated unfairly, that the trading system was totally unfavorable to the United States, the American economy, American workers, the middle class," the official said.

"In short, a long, frank rant which is undoubtedly very unusual in this kind of formats," the official added.

French President Emmanuel Macron responded in a "courteous but very firm tone" to present the European side of the story, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chimed in as well, the official said.

Trump left before the end of the summit on Saturday. He will fly to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which he described as a "mission of peace."

Apart from trade, there also was disagreement over the G7's position on climate change and Trump's suggestion that Russia be re-admitted to the group.

Russia was suspended in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Merkel said on Saturday there must first be progress on a Ukraine peace plan before there is any talk about readmitting Moscow.

Trump's presidency has been clouded by a federal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by his campaign. Both Moscow and Trump have denied the allegations.

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