G20 forges a course with less U.S. pres­ence

An­a­lyst says world must find a way to work with U.S., be­cause it’s too big to try and work around

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MIA RABSON

OT­TAWA — Justin Trudeau is em­bark­ing to­day on a week­long Euro­pean so­journ that will cul­mi­nate in a meet­ing of 20 of the world’s largest economies — one where he’ll test-drive a brand new for­eign af­fairs pol­icy aimed at chart­ing Canada’s own course in the world.

Fri­day’s G20 meet­ings are shap­ing up as a show­down be­tween Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

In a speech last week to the Ger­man par­lia­ment that laid out her pri­or­i­ties for the meet­ing, Merkel — host of the two-day gath­er­ing in Ham­burg — de­liv­ered a pointed cri­tique of Trump’s now-in­fa­mous “Amer­ica First” doc­trine with­out ever once men­tion­ing his name.

“Who­ever be­lieves that the world’s prob­lems can be solved by iso­la­tion­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism is mis­taken,” Merkel said.

Her G20 agenda — stronger global co-op­er­a­tion to fight cli­mate change and ter­ror­ism, and more ro­bust in­ter­na­tional trade — cuts di­rectly to the heart of her well-doc­u­mented dif­fer­ences with Trump, a strat­egy some see as an ef­fort to fur­ther iso­late the U.S. pres­i­dent on the world stage.

Trump, for his part, has es­ca­lated the war of words with Merkel, us­ing fa­mil­iar rhetoric about a “mas­sive trade deficit” the U.S. has with Ger­many and threats to slap im­port taxes on Ger­man-made cars.

Trump stood alone at the G7 meet­ing in Italy last month when the other six lead­ers, in­clud­ing Merkel and Trudeau, pushed him to stick with the Paris cli­mate change ac­cord, an in­ter­na­tional treaty aimed at keep­ing global warm­ing to less than two de­grees C above pre-in­dus­trial levels.

Trump de­murred, re­fused to sign the Paris part of the G7 com­mu­nique, and later made it of­fi­cial: the U.S. was out.

Since then, Merkel has been work­ing hard to shore up sup­port for the ac­cord among other G20 na­tions. She met re­cently with lead­ers from China and In­dia, trav­elled to Mex­ico and Ar­gentina last month and sat down with Euro­pean lead­ers just last week to de­velop a united front.

Into this mix steps Trudeau — more philo­soph­i­cally aligned with Merkel and Em­manuel Macron, France’s young and stylish new pres­i­dent, but lashed ir­re­vo­ca­bly to the U.S. through eco­nomic and ge­o­graphic ties.

Trudeau’s ap­proach to Trump has put him in a unique po­si­tion at this gath­er­ing, said Colin Robert­son, a for­mer Cana­dian diplo­mat and se­nior ad­viser at the law firm Den­tons.

David Perry, a se­nior an­a­lyst at the Cana­dian Global Af­fairs In­sti­tute, said he’ll be watch­ing to see how Canada turns that speech into ac­tion. While Merkel may want to iso­late the cur­rent U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion, Amer­ica re­mains too in­flu­en­tial and too in­ter­con­nected with the world for any­one to sim­ply try to work with­out it en­tirely, Perry said. “Amer­ica matters no mat­ter what any­body thinks,” Perry said. “You can’t work around them no mat­ter what.”


Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and his wife So­phie and son Hadrien ar­rive Ire­land.

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