The Group of Seven summit ended in acrimony Saturday with Donald Trump calling Justin Trudeau “dishonest and weak” and the Prime Minister declaring he won’t be “pushed around” by the U.S. President.
An angry Mr. Trump threatened to hit Canadian and European automobile exports to the U.S. with stiff tariffs after Mr. Trudeau criticized him for his steel and aluminum levies.
Such an action could cripple Canada’s auto industry and set off a full-scale trade war.
On Air Force One enroute to Singapore for the talks with North Korean Leader Kim Jung-Un, the U.S. President fired off two testy tweets at Mr. Trudeau, the G7 summit host.
Mr. Trudeau had told a wrap up news conference that Canada would not be pushed around and would retaliate if the U.S. doesn’t rescind its steel and aluminum tariffs.
“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 [G7] communique as we look at tariffs on automobiles flooding into the U.S. market,” Mr. Trump said.
The U.S. President also tweeted that Mr. Trudeau “acted so meek and mild” during the G7 meetings only to attack him after he departed.
“Very dishonest and weak,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Mr. Trudeau’s spokesman Ahmad Cameron responded, saying “The Prime Minister said nothing he hasn’t said before – both in public, and in private conversations with the President.” Mr. Trudeau’s office said they had no further comment on the Trump trade threats.
The President departed the two-day summit hours before it officially concluded without making any trade concessions to fellow leaders who were angry over the imposition of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs.
“We are like the piggy bank that everyone is robbing and that ends,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “It is going to stop or we are going to stop trading with them.”
At his news conference, Mr. Trudeau condemned the President’s protections actions as destructive and even illegal. He vowed that Canada and Europe would hit back with reciprocal tariffs on July 1 if the U.S. levies are not rescinded.
“It is something we absolutely will do because as Canadians we are polite and reasonable but we will absolutely not be pushed around,” Mr. Trudeau said. “I will to that without flinching. That is what I explained to the president.”
Those comments appeared to anger the President who is known to respond rashly when personally criticized.
“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Mr. Trump tweeted.
The prospect of a full-scale trade war now looms as the President is threatening to impose tariffs on automobile imports. Before he departed the summit he had warned against reciprocal tariffs aimed at U.S. goods and services.
“If they retaliate they are making a mistake because…they do so much more business with us than we do with them that we can’t lose that. We can’t lose it,” Mr. Trump said.
On the stalled North American Free Trade negotiations, Mr. Trudeau flatly denied the President’s assertion that Canada and Mexico were close to a deal on a sunset clause that would reopen the trade deal within five years.
“A trade deal with a sunset clause is not a trade deal and therefore we will not accept a sunset clause of five, ten or whatever duration that is proposed by the President,” Mr. Trudeau said.
The Prime Minster had also rejected Mr. Trump’s proposal to cut Mexico out of trilateral talks and pursue a bilateral free trade deal. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said it would be difficult for NAFTA talks to proceed as long as the steel and aluminum tariffs remained in place.
G7 as leaders, led by Mr. Trudeau, Germany’s Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron had confronted the U.S. President at with a slew of data on import and exports in an effort to persuade him to abandon his trade and tariff actions.
Mr. Trump was unmoved and remains convinced trade is tilted against the U.S. economy.
“When I am telling them, they are smiling at me. It is like the gig is up. There is nothing they can say. They can’t believe they got away with it. Canada can’t believe they got away with it,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump said his tariffs are meant to protect U.S. workers and suggested to reporters that the G7 countries eliminate all trade barriers, an idea that none of the leaders seemed to take seriously.
“So you go tariff -free, you go subsidy- free…now I did suggest and I guess they are going to go back to the drawing board and check it out,” he said.
G7 leaders struggled to reach any kind of consensus for a joint statement. The final communique papered over their differences with the leaders agreeing the need for “fair and mutual beneficial trade” and “strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies.” It also spoke about reforming the World Trade Organization, which Mr. Trump has demanded.
French President Emmanuel Macron described the communique as a good first step that represented the G7 nations’ desire to stabilize the situation.
“These are jointly shared principles, although the pitfalls lie in the details,” Merkel said in a press conference.
There was little expectation of a major breakthrough at the summit on trade given Mr. Trump’s temperament and long-held protectionist ideology, but the President insisted he got along well with Mr. Trudeau and other leaders who stood up to him.
“We have a great relationship. Angela and Emmanuel and Justin, I would say the relationship is a 10,” he said.
Before departing for Singapore, Mr.Trump again called for Russia to be reinstated to the G7. Italy’s new populist Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was the only leader to embrace this idea.
“I said very simply that it is not something we are even remotely interested in looking at this time to have Russia return to the G7,” Mr. Trudeau said.
President Trump also bragged he would know within a minute of meeting North Korea’s dictator on June 12 whether it was possible to get a nuclear deal.
“He can take that nation and truly make it great nation so it is a one- time shot and I think it is going to work out very well,” Mr. Trump said.
With files from Associated Press