The G7 summit in Canada has ended in the escalation of a row over trade with US President Donald Trump withdrawing support for a communique, citing “false statements” by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trump was on board Air Force One when he issued a series of tweets on Saturday, attacking Trudeau who he called “very dishonest” and “weak” and apparently pulling out of the joint statement.
Shortly before, Trudeau had announced the G7 countries had all agreed on the statement.
Trudeau also said Canada would move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1 in response to tariffs on steel and aluminium imports into the US from Canada, Mexico and European Union (EU) countries announced by Trump on May 31.
Trudeau called the fact that the US had based the tariffs on a national security reason “kind of insulting”.
“As Canadians, we are polite, we’re reasonable, but also we will not be pushed around,” he said.
The remarks apparently upset Trump, who had left the conference early to travel to Singapore for a highly anticipated meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“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!” he tweeted.
Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
Responding to Trump, Trudeau’s spokesperson Cameron Ahmad said: “We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the G7 summit.”
Ahmad added: “The prime minister said nothing he hasn’t said before – both in public, and in private conversations with the president.”
‘Unfair’ trade deals
Ahead of his departure, Trump had criticised his predecessors for negotiating “unfair” trade deals.
“The United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades,” Trump told reporters, reiterating his long-standing view that Washington has been exploited for too long by existing trade arrangements.
“I congratulate leaders of other countries for so crazily being able to make these trade deals so good for their countries,” Trump said, while insisting that his relationships with Europe and Canada were “outstanding”.
He also said relationships with his G7 partners were a “10” before he left.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May stood with Trudeau on the issue of trade.
“When we disagree with our allies on something it is right that we say so and air the issue openly and frankly,” she said at a news conference.
“We have done just that at this summit, registering our deep disappointment at the unjustified decision by the US to apply tariffs to EU steel and aluminium imports.”
The now mooted communique acknowledged the importance of “free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment”.
“We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies,” it said.
This year’s G7 summit had been dubbed “G6-plus-1” by many, referring to US isolation over issues including trade and the Iran nuclear deal.