The Strategist

Summit G7 and the crisis in the US-EU relations

06/08/2018 - 12:14

The summit of the heads of state and government of the G7 countries will take place on June 8-9, in Quebec, Canada. The summit will be dedicated with problems of free trade and cooperation of G7 countries in the international arena, as well as measures to protect the climate. There are serious disagreements on all these issues between the United States and the other six countries.

openDemocracy via flickr
openDemocracy via flickr
Given this, and also taking into account Donald Trump’s unpredictability, some observers believe there’s a possibility that the US president will refuse to participate in the meeting of leaders of leading industrial countries at the last minute. In particular, this is an opinion of Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, now a professor at the University of Ottawa, and Daniel Price, an American politician-democrat, formerly George W. Bush's representative at the G8 summits and G20. "Although it seems incredible, but everything is possible," - specified Paris. "If Trump does not come, it will be unfortunate, but everything can happen," Price echoed him.

American duties on steel and aluminum are the main cause of the crisis

The G7 Summit in Quebec will be held at a difficult time. Never before had Western partners experienced such a crisis in their relations with the United States. One of the reasons for this deterioration in ties is the 25 percent duty on steel products, introduced from June 1 for manufacturers from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, and 10 percent duties for aluminum.

This decision was not a surprise for the Europeans. In May, EU representatives repeatedly negotiated to avoid a trade conflict with the United States. But the sides' positions were too different: the US hinted at a possibility of agreeing within the framework of bilateral agreements with individual European countries, Brussels demanded that the US regard the European Union as a single negotiator and comply with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In response to US measures, the European Union imposes duties on a number of American goods from July 1. The European Commission adopted the corresponding decision on the eve of the G7 summit, on June 6. Brussels emphasizes that protective measures, which must be agreed before the end of June with all EU countries, are not just a retaliatory step, but have a political nature. So, products of those American states, where the Republicans rule, will be banned first. It is assumed that their governors will have to influence President Trump, elected by the Republicans.

Exit from the Iranian nuclear deal and other tricks of Trump

The introduction of duties on steel and aluminum products imported from the EU and Canada is not Trump's only move, which causes discontent and bewilderment, including among the G7 countries. Before that, the United States announced the withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal. "The US looks quite isolated, given their withdrawal from the agreement on Tehran's nuclear program and the desire to impose sanctions against countries that are not going to give up their agreements with Iran, as well as imposing duties on aluminum and steel for producers from the EU and Canada," states Daniel Price.

According to Roland Paris, new fees for producers from Canada reveal the disagreement between the administration of Trump and the Trudeau government: "I think that now there is a situation that did not exist in the history of Canadian-American relations. There were tense moments, but never the US authorities consider Canadian imports as a threat to their national security. "

A hope to save the dialog in G7 format

Trump has uneasy relations not only with Canada, but also with the leading EU states, Germany and France. One of the evidences of this is the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, advocated by French President Emmanuel Macron.

"If the G7 summit succeeded in an honest and open exchange of views, and the US president realized how destructive the steps he is taking, and what split they make in the relations between the countries, this would be a great success," explains Daniel Price.

Despite serious disagreements with the US, the German government is trying to preserve the format of meetings of leaders of the leading industrial countries of the world. Berlin emphasizes the importance of dialogue, even when the views of partners on a number of topics vary. "If we can avoid an open confrontation between the United States and the rest of the G7 countries under current circumstances, the summit can be considered successful," Roland Paris summed up.


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