QUEBEC CITY: President Trump feuded with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and threatened to impose penalties on foreign automobile imports Saturday, capping an acrimonious meeting of the Group of Seven industrial nations that further frayed ties between the United States and its closest allies.
Trump said Saturday evening that he had instructed US officials to withdraw support for a joint statement with other member nations he had backed just hours earlier, saying the United States would not join after Trudeau publicly criticized Trump’s trade policy.
“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive tariffs to our US farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our US Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the US Market!,” Trump wrote on Twitter after leaving the summit.
Trump, who did not specify which of Trudeau’s statements he considered false, said U.S. trade policies were a response to unfair Canadian practices and characterized the Canadian leader as “weak.”
Earlier Saturday, Trudeau criticized Trump’s recent decision to place tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, saying it was “insulting” that Trump cited U.S. national security as his reason for doing so.
“Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau said at his own, separate news conference at the meeting’s end.
“I highlighted directly to the president that Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum industry,” Trudeau said. “Particularly, [they] did not take lightly that it’s for a national security reason that for Canadians . . . who stood shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in far off lands in conflicts from the First World War onward, it’s kind of insulting.”
G-7 leaders had hoped the annual summit here would strengthen ties that had been tested by trade disputes. Instead, it ended in a war of words between Trump and the leader of one of the United States’ largest trading partners that threatened to escalate into a full-blown trade war.
Earlier Saturday, Trump said he had floated the idea of countries dropping all import barriers, saying he would do the same in return. But he warned he could cut off U.S. trade entirely with countries that kept current rules in place, arguing they had taken advantage of previous administrations to take advantage of the United States.
“We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing,” Trump said here at a news conference. “And that ends.”
Saturday’s clashes ended a summit that was marked by repeated disagreements between the United States and its closest allies. The G-7, in its current form, consists of the United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan.
Trump on Friday called for Russia to be readmitted to the G-7 after it was expelled in 2014 for annexing Ukraine’s Crimea. And he departed the gathering early — skipping a discussion of global climate change — to fly to Singapore for a nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Now, leaders from the G-7 and elsewhere face a string of trade decisions that will either preserve the existing global economic system or reshape it, with millions of jobs and trillions of dollars hanging in the balance.
This article provided by NewsEdge.