G20 leaders cut ‘protectionist’ US out of deals
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.