President Donald Trump broadsided his allies and upended a Group of Seven meeting just as it wound up — disavowing a joint statement the US had agreed to, lashing out at Canada’s Justin Trudeau and ratcheting up trade tensions.
Trump fired off a pair of tweets several hours after leaving the summit in Canada to fly to Singapore for another on North Korea. Trudeau and other leaders had given closing press conferences and announced a US-backed joint G-7 statement. Minutes after that statement was published online, Trump complained about comments made by Trudeau and revoked his support.“I have instructed our US Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the US Market!,” Trump tweeted Saturday evening, saying he was responding to Trudeau. “Very dishonest & weak,” he said of the Canadian leader.
His comments undermine the G-7, a bloc that was once a pillar of US foreign policy and has long acted as a defender of the global economic system. It could also cause fresh friction with his northern neighbour as tensions percolate over efforts to redraw the North American Free Trade Agreement. And it could even undercut the upcoming North Korea summit — Trump effectively backed out of a deal with allies while travelling to try and reach a deal with a foe.“It’s a brutal blow to a summit of significant success, both in substance and in presentation,” said John Kirton, director of the University of Toronto’s G-7 Research Group. The brief glow of this year’s summit “has been destroyed, for now and probably for good.”
The president’s reference to cars is not new. Trump last month directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to initiate a national-security investigation into imports of cars, trucks and vehicle parts that could possibly lead to tariffs. Canada would be among the biggest losers from such a move as the second-largest source of U.S. vehicle imports. The top source is the other Nafta member, Mexico.
But the remarks came shortly after Trudeau, the G-7 host, had projected an image of cooperation.