G20, G7 Just a Group of groupies
What started in 1999 as a Group 7 (G7) of finance ministers morphed into all kinds of groups until it became the G20, it’s a complicated path to follow. The group likes inventing Groups. But the G7 in Quebec was little more than a tears-before-bedtime scenario a few minutes after Donald Trump entered the room. Angela Merkel and others were visibly stunned by the ensuing bunfight, especially between Trump and Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau. Perhaps the Trump style has taken another twist. Most of that G7 had met Trump recently. Trump was the new boy in the group, they needed him on their side. They turned on the charm and so did Trump. However, the only one not fooled was Trump who sized them up and it did not add up for America. It’s just not diplomacy—is it? So, for now the world has a Group of 1—G1 America! As for the effeminate PM Justin (pronounced with a lisp), his father was a class showboat in his time but Justin is a wanker in progress. After this mess many countries will be wanting a Trump as their leader, he gets the job done, one way or the other!
Now, for the usual dopey economists point of view–
From a special relationship to a ‘special place in hell’
When Donald Trump fired off his bitter character assessment of the Canadian Prime Minister — a man he proclaimed to be “very dishonest and weak” — the US President wasn’t just walking away from a hard-fought agreement between G7 leaders, signed hours earlier.
For many observers, it was confirmation that relations between the two North American leaders had reached a personal low that defies comparison in recent history.
Indeed, we haven’t heard of such animosity between the Canadian prime minister and the US president since the last time Justin Trudeau lived at the prime minister’s residence.
Tariffs won’t revive US industry
Donald Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs will do more to antagonise allies than revitalise US industry, writes Ian Verrender.
The year was 1972, Trudeau Jr was just a baby and his dad Pierre was in power.
Like on Monday, the bone of contention in that falling-out was also trade policies, and specifically White House protectionism, which led Nixon to infamously describe Trudeau Sr as “a pompous egghead” and a “clever son of a bitch”.
The spat culminated in Richard Nixon standing up in Canadian parliament to effectively pronounce the special relationship between the two countries to be dead.
“It is time for us to recognise: that we have very separate identities; that we have significant differences; and that nobody’s interests are furthered when these realities are obscured,” Mr Nixon told his audience.
The difference with this week’s falling-out is that while Mr Nixon had kept his caustic character assessment of his counterpart private, Mr Trump’s outburst of personal contempt for Trudeau Jr was broadcast to the whole world.
And Mr Trump’s advisors were quick to join in lockstep with the rancour.
“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” presidential adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News.
So how did we get to this situation where the White House is accusing its northern neighbour — a so-called backstabbing, double-crossing weakling — of betrayal?
Protectionist mantras were a recurring theme in Mr Trump’s election campaign, with most of his acerbic barbs directed against Mexico and China.
When the Trump presidency became an unexpected reality, the Canadian Government took quick action to promote a counternarrative.
Mr Trudeau’s administration embarked on a charm offensive — albeit one that involved judo-like handshakes — as he attempted to persuade Mr Trump the current arrangements created jobs for Americans.
At the centre of it all was NAFTA, a free trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico, which Mr Trump described as a “jobs killer” that he wanted to tear up.
Canadian politicians flocked to rust belt states in a concerted effort to make the case for a continuation for the NAFTA framework.
By May 2017, the Trump administration announced its intention to renegotiate the trade pact in Americans’ favour, arguing Canada had out-manoeuvred previous administrations.
This allegedly unfair playing field, Mr Trump contended, meant that Canada found itself in a competitive advantage across industries as varied as dairy, lumber and energy.
Nevertheless Mr Trudeau persevered with his optimistic entreaties until Mr Trump announced his hard-ball trade negotiation strategy — tariffs on aluminium and steel imported from allied nations.
Donald Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs are unlikely to harm China — it is the US and its allies in the firing line, writes Stephen Letts.
The US is Canada’s largest trading partner by a considerable margin, and Canada exports more steel and aluminium to the US than any other country.
The news of Mr Trump’s proposal left many Canadians in shock.
“We’re pretty consistently flabbergasted that Canada is at the top of the hit parade of trade villains in Trump’s eyes,” the chief economist at the Bank of Montreal, Douglas Porter, said at the time.
The White House justification for the tariffs — national security — appeared to add insult to injury, with Mr Trudeau describing the reasoning as “simply ridiculous”.
The escalating rhetoric culminated in a surreal telephone conversation where Mr Trump defended his strategy by suggesting to Mr Trudeau that Canadians were responsible for burning down the White House.
(British troops did burn down the White House back in the War of 1812, but Canada wasn’t even confederated until 1867.)
By the time the G7 summit began in Quebec, Mr Trudeau appeared to be in an awkward negotiating position.
Negotiators struggled to decide upon even a minimalist joint commitment that addressed the deep concerns everyone held about the trade dispute.
When the world leaders convened around a bonfire for a Cirque du Soleil performance on Friday night, one can only imagine the contortionist manoeuvres performed on stage resonated with some of its audience.
Meanwhile, G7 officials cast doubt on whether a final communique would emerge from the summit.
Yet despite such reports, a compromise agreement was eventually hammered out, expressing the shared economic aspirations of the countries.
The success led even Mr Trump to momentarily abandon his anti-Canadian posturing, telling reporters Mr Trudeau had hosted a wonderful summit and their relationship was “very good”.
And by the time Mr Trudeau faced the press to announce the breakthrough deal, Mr Trump was already en route to meet Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
Fielding questions from reporters, Mr Trudeau reiterated the US tariffs were unjust, his Government planned to go ahead with retaliatory measures, and that he had told Mr Trump as much.
“We did not take lightly to the fact that it’s based on a national security reason that for Canadians, who either themselves, or whose parents, community members, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers in far-off lands and conflicts from the first world war onwards, that it’s kind of insulting,” Mr Trudeau told journalists, echoing remarks he had made earlier.
Other G7 leaders were stunned by the last-minute withdrawal, uniting to express their dismay that the hard-fought communique was now abandoned.
Germany’s Angela Merkel said Mr Trump’s decision was “depressing, ” and France’s Emmanuel Macron concurred.
“International cooperation could not be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks,” he said.
On the domestic front, Mr Trudeau’s position has received bipartisan support.
His predecessor, Stephen Harper, has questioned why Mr Trump appeared obsessed with its trade relations with Canada.
“Canada is the biggest single purchaser of US goods and services in the world — it’s not China, it’s not Mexico, it’s not Britain, it’s not Germany. It’s Canada. So it just seems to me this is the wrong target,” the former conservative prime minister told Fox News.
Such unity from his domestic rivals must surely be cold comfort for Mr Trudeau, after his summit that produced no consensus, and the realisation his truculent neighbour would rather spend his time with a North Korean dictator.