EU leaders round on Trump over trade at G7

Updated August 25, 2019

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EU leaders rounded on US President Donald Trump over his trade threats on Saturday as they arrived in the chic French seaside resort of Biarritz for a G7 summit overshadowed by trans-Atlantic tensions and worries about the global economy. — AFP/File
EU leaders rounded on US President Donald Trump over his trade threats on Saturday as they arrived in the chic French seaside resort of Biarritz for a G7 summit overshadowed by trans-Atlantic tensions and worries about the global economy. — AFP/File

BIARRITZ: EU leaders rounded on US President Donald Trump over his trade threats on Saturday as they arrived in the chic French seaside resort of Biarritz for a G7 summit overshadowed by trans-Atlantic tensions and worries about the global economy.

Already embroiled in a high-risk trade war with China, Trump warned late Friday he would impose punishing tariffs on French wine if France doesn’t withdraw a new digital tax that will hit US tech giants.

The European Union “will respond in kind,” EU Council President Donald Tusk answered to Trump, who issued his threat on departing Washington for Biarritz.

Host Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, and even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also sounded the alarm about the dangers of Trump’s escalating trade war with China.

“I am very concerned. The UK is at risk of being implicated in this. This is not the way to proceed,” Johnson told reporters on the plane to the G7 summit in Biarritz.

“I want to see a dialling down of tensions.” The stormy start to a summit of what are meant to be like-minded allies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, led Tusk to sound a dire alarm over the future of Western leadership.

“This may be the last moment to restore our political community,” he said.

“The world needs our cooperation.” In an attempt to lighten the mood, Macron deployed his secret weapon of French cuisine diplomacy, treating Trump to a surprise lunch minutes after he had arrived on Air Force One.

Speaking to reporters in fluent English, Macron called Trump “a very special guest”.

Trump, sitting across the small table on a terrace of the ornate Hotel du Palais, appeared to be softened by the warm, unscheduled welcome.

“So far so good. The weather is perfect. Everybody’s getting along. I think we will accomplish a lot this weekend,” Trump said, praising his “special relationship” with Macron.

In addition to the global economy and fears of recession, the G7 chiefs will huddle over several hot topics, including their diverging positions on Iran’s nuclear program.

European leaders are also focusing on a push for action against fires in the Amazon rainforest, despite Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s angry response to what he sees as outside interference.

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2019