Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves as he arrives at the airport in Biarritz, France Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. Trudeau is joining U.S. President Donald Trump, host French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Britain, Germany, Japan and Italy for the annual G-7 summit in the elegant resort town of Biarritz. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Trudeau to meet with U.K. and Japanese prime ministers ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has little expectations of a unified front from the leaders

European Council President Donald Tusk is urging G7 leaders to find common ground, especially on issues of security and trade, warning that trade wars ”will lead to recession” — one day after a Twitter tirade against China by the U.S. president that sent investors running for cover.

The spectre of Donald Trump’s scorched-earth style loomed large Saturday as Tusk acknowledged the mounting tension among G7 nations in recent years as they seek common ground at a time when greater co-operation was never more important.

“This may be the last moment to restore our political community,” Tusk told a news conference in the seaside resort of Biarritz, France, where the leaders of the seven leading world economies have gathered for several days of meetings and talks.

“Trade wars will lead to recession, while trade deals will boost the economy — not to mention the fact that trade wars among G7 members will lead to eroding the already weakened trust among us.”

ALSO READ: France takes torch passed by Canada, will focus on gender equality at G7 summit

It was only Friday when Trump angrily upped the ante in his trade fight with China, promising to increase planned tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods from 10 to 15 per cent in response to Beijing’s decision to raise taxes on $75-billion worth of U.S. imports. He also “hereby ordered” American companies to find alternatives to doing business there.

“I have no choice. We’re not going to lose close to a trillion dollars a year to China,” he later said on a day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 673 points lower. “Tariffs are working out very well for us. People don’t understand that yet.”

It’s in spite of that superheated atmosphere that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hoping to build consensus on the virtues of free trade and strengthen Canada’s trade ties with its G7 partners.

Trudeau met Saturday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for discussions that were expected to focus on how Canada’s existing trade deal with the European Union would function in a post-Brexit Britain. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Johnson took over as prime minister of the United Kingdom in July.

Trudeau was also scheduled to meet later in the day with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Those talks were aimed at giving Trudeau the opportunity to highlight strong Japanese-Canadian ties forged from the successful launch of the rebooted Trans-Pacific Partnership late last year, as well as a chance to talk security issues amid rising tensions between Tokyo and South Korea.

But while Trudeau tries to cement plans for a smooth transition in the U.K. of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) — which set rules for trade between Canada and the European Union — opposition to CETA in France among farmers and environmentalists has continued.

Isabelle Hudon, Canada’s ambassador to France, acknowledged there is a “steep curve in France around trade issues,” but says she has been encouraged by an uptick in the number of French businesses using and benefiting from CETA.

“In Canada we are way more comfortable doing trade, for our companies to do trade, internationally and vice-versa,” Hudon said.

French President Emmanuel Macron, this year’s G7 host, has played down any expectations of a unified front from the leaders — a legacy of last year’s acrimonious ending to the gathering in Quebec.

Instead of a final communique to wrap the summit, Macron is aiming to publish outcome documents for following agreements reached between individual countries on different issues, including free trade, gender equity and the environment — an attempt to avoid the fate of the 2018 summit in Charlevoix, Que., when Trump lashed out at Trudeau from the confines of Air Force One and scratched his name from the communique.

A final communique is not the most important thing for the G7 summit, Hudon argued. Getting the world’s Group of Seven leaders together to speak candidly about issues of joint interest — even if building consensus has become elusive, is more important, Hudon said.

“There’s a shift in what the G7 is becoming. That being said, that’s not a reason to stop the conversations.”

Tusk said the summit “will be a difficult test of unity and solidarity of the free world and its leaders” but urged G7 leaders to find unity not only on trade, but also on climate action, defending the rule of law and human rights and combating the threat of nuclear proliferation — rather than focusing on “senseless disputes among each other.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Columbia Basin Trust shuffles board, new leaders at the table

The Trust is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors

BREAKING: Golden Rockets part ways with head coach

It’s not clear why Jeremy Blumes was let go from the team

Golden’s unsung heroes help keep traffic flowing along Highway 1

At the height of winter, highway closures on Highway 1 can prove… Continue reading

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Most Read