Leaders of the Group of Seven nations meeting in Quebec, Canada over the next two days will pressure the United States President on the tariffs he’s imposed on their imports of steel and aluminum sparking fears of a trade war that could undermine global economic growth.
This as President Cyril Ramaphosa jets off to join other developing world leaders hoping not to be overshadowed by the current narrative emanating from Washington.
President Donald Trump’s America First Policy and the imposition of protectionist measures on even their closest allies – including hosts Canada and the European Union – have pundits calling for a showdown in Canada.
It’s a picturesque setting for this gathering of the world’s most industrialised nations. Providing a canvass, amidst tight security, for pushback from some of America’s closest allies, among them French President Emmanuel Macron.
“In this context, above all we always have to remain polite, productive and try to be convincing, to keep the United States on board because they are our historical ally and we need them, but on the substance we’ve never given in.”
Macron is the among the first G7 leaders to arrive in Canada for what some are calling a strategy session with his Canadian host as concerns linger about US actions on the global economy and geo political decisions like withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal that has isolated Washington among its G7 colleagues.
“I will repeat to United States President Donald Trump what we’ve just explained here, that the measures taken are counter-productive, including for his own economy. For me, it’s also a question of principle, you can’t wage a trade war between allies. We are all engaged in conflicts, in Syria and Iraq, in the Sahel and in other places in the world, we are allies and we exchange critical information, our soldiers stand together to protect freedom and our values. In the international context we face today, we can’t have a trade war. It’s a question of principle. Along with Prime Minister Trudeau and all of our partners, I will try to convince him to find a way back to normal on trade issues, because we need to resolve this tension.”
But Trump is unlikely to back down with some calling his recent actions part of a broader strategy to obtain better trade deals for the United States. His economic advisor Larry Kudlow tried to address the tensions Thursday.
“Well, look, we’re talking everything through, there may be disagreements. I regard this as much like a family quarrel. I’m always the optimist; I believe it can be worked out. But, you know, and I’m always hopeful on that point. This is a G7 meeting and the President and heads of state will get together.”
The summit has five broad themes – inclusive growth and creating jobs for a future digital economy, climate change with a particular focus on the oceans economy, a peaceful and secure world and gender equality and women’s empowerment. And in G7 tradition, protests expected to turn out en masse over the next three as Oxfam’s Rowan Harvey explains.
“Women around the world do two to 10 times more unpaid care work than men do. That obviously stops them earning at the same rate, but also it stops them participating in public life, getting involved in politics, the media and also hinders their well being.”
In a world that appears increasingly at odds with itself, South Africa’s head of state arrives early Friday morning for a first stop in Toronto where he will engage business and investment leaders as part of his drive to raise 100 billion dollars in new investment over the next five years.
He will then onto the retreat in Charlevoix where the summit leaders will gather and where on Saturday he will partake in discussion around the oceans economy and conservation that has been earmarked by Pretoria as an important growth pole for the economy.
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