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News > World

Trump's Tariffs, Protectionism Debated at Disjointed G7 Meeting

  • U.S. President Donald Trump with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 meeting.

    U.S. President Donald Trump with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 meeting. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 June 2018

The G7 meeting has begun in Canada, with groups of protesters outside while top Western leaders inside struggle to settle trade disagreements.

The latest meeting of G7 leaders has focused on patching the wounds between traditional allies resulting from the new tariff regime imposed on Europe, Mexico and Canada by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.

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Europe, Canada and Japan have largely united against Trump's protectionism, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel putting forward an idea to create a mechanism to resolve trade differences with the United States.

"The EU believes these unilateral U.S. tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organization rules. This is protectionism, pure and simple," Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.

However, hopes for the conflict to be resolved are reportedly low: "It's highly unlikely there will be a final communique," a G7 official said on condition of anonymity.

Merkel's proposal was however strongly supported by other leaders at the meeting, the officiial said, adding that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was ready to invest personally in it.

During the meeting, held in Quebec, Canada and several other members shot down a proposal to readmit Russia to the G7. Trump had proposed including Russia, saying: "We have a world to run."

"In the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table," Trump said.

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Canada and Germany rejected the proposal, saying that Russia failed to comply with "Western democracy." They also said Russia's relations with Ukraine must first improve.

While some of the world's top Western leaders struggled to find common ground, small groups of protesters clashed with riot police on the highways leading to the summit. A hundred or so protesters, dressed in black, burned couches to block the entrance of Highway 440.

Other anti-G7 protesters marched on Thursday evening in Quebec City, chanting slogans and playing music, while riot police followed the peaceful action closely. Protests were largely organized by the Anti-G7 Resistance Network, which condemns the summit as "imperialist, colonialist and against environmental protection."

The Group of Seven, or G7, is a group of world leaders consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Notably excluding major powers such as Brics members China, Russia, Brazil and India, the seven countries represent around 62 percent of the world's net wealth and 46 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

G7 summits have frequently been met with mass protests, notably in 2015 when protesters managed to make it to the security fence surrounding the meeting.

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