G20 lead­ers cut ‘pro­tec­tion­ist’ US out of deals

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

IN A POINTED chal­lenge to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s “Amer­ica First” agenda, lead­ers of the world’s big­gest economies are this week tout­ing an ap­proach that breaks with the past 20 years of global trade side­step the US en­tirely.

In the days lead­ing up to this week’s G20 sum­mit in Ham­burg, lead­ers from Ger­many, Ja­pan and else­where are dis­cussing new free­trade agree­ments that ex­clude US car­mak­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Their lead­ers are vig­or­ously push­ing back against Trump’s threat of new US tar­iffs or reg­u­la­tions on im­ported steel. And many are mak­ing pub­lic com­ments that af­firm their com­mit­ment to fash­ion pacts with or with­out the US.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, who faces elec­tions in Septem­ber in a coun­try where Trump is deeply un­pop­u­lar, has been among the most out­spo­ken and is ex­pected to push Trump this week­end over his trade threats.

“Those who think that the prob­lems of this world can be solved with iso­la­tion­ism or pro­tec­tion­ism are ter­ri­bly wrong,” Merkel told the Ger­man par­lia­ment last week.

The di­ver­gent ap­proaches have set up the G20 as a po­ten­tial cross­roads for the world’s new eco­nomic or­der. Trump is try­ing to lever­age Amer­i­can eco­nomic power to ne­go­ti­ate new deals in the coun­try’s favour, but other for­eign lead­ers ap­pear in­creas­ingly ready to by­pass him.

“It is im­por­tant for us to wave the flag of free trade in re­sponse to global moves to­ward pro­tec­tion­ism by quickly con­clud­ing the free trade agree­ment with Europe,” Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said, tout­ing a new po­ten­tial Ja­pan-EU trade pact that would lower tar­iffs for ve­hi­cles be­tween Europe and Ja­pan. If signed, the free-trade agree­ment would ri­val the size of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

“Go­ing into the G20, the EU and Ja­pan want to con­tinue to have a lib­eral trade agenda and show that other coun­tries are able to pur­sue this agenda with­out the US,” said An­dré Sapir, an in­ter­na­tional trade ex­pert.

While other coun­tries ex­plore new eco­nomic ties, Trump is threat­en­ing to pull the US fur­ther back.

“The US made some of the worst Trade Deals in world his­tory.

“Why should we con­tinue these deals with coun­tries that do not help us?” he tweeted on Wed­nes­day.

Wash­ing­ton Post

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