Trump threat­ens to end trad­ing if bar­ri­ers not cut

At G-7 with al­lies, he says U.S. ‘like the piggy bank that every­body’s rob­bing’

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - John Fritze

WASH­ING­TON – Pres­i­dent Trump told global lead­ers gath­ered at the Group of Seven sum­mit in Que­bec on Satur­day that they must re­duce trade bar­ri­ers and floated the idea of low­er­ing tar­iffs com­pletely if other coun­tries agree to a more pure form of open trade.

Trump threat­ened to stop trad­ing with other na­tions if they de­cline to lower bar­ri­ers he has re­peat­edly de­scribed as un­fair, and he warned al­lies against tak­ing re­tal­ia­tory mea­sures against steep metal tar­iffs that he im­posed last month.

“We’re like the piggy bank that every­body’s rob­bing,” Trump said. “And that ends.”

End­ing trade with other na­tions un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, Trump said, would be “a very prof­itable an­swer if I have to do it.”

The re­marks, fol­low­ing a two-day meet­ing in Canada with the world’s largest in­dus­tri­al­ized economies, were among the most stri­dent Trump has used to de­scribe what he sees as an outof-whack global trade sys­tem that harms U.S. in­dus­tries.

Trump tried to down­play any no­tion

that the meet­ing in Canada was con­tentious. He re­peat­edly de­scribed his re­la­tion­ship with the other lead­ers at the sum­mit as “a 10” and said he did not blame the other coun­tries for their po­si­tions on trade.

Trump drew in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism last month for lev­el­ing a 25% tar­iff on steel and a 10% duty on alu­minum, mea­sures the pres­i­dent says are nec­es­sary for na­tional se­cu­rity. The pres­i­dent has also said he is con­sid­er­ing a tar­iff on im­ported cars.

The pres­i­dent said the ideal sit­u­a­tion would be a com­pletely free trade sys­tem with the other G-7 na­tions — Bri­tain, Canada, France, Ger­many, Italy and Ja­pan. Un­der such an ar­range­ment, he said, the U.S. would agree to re­move all tar­iffs and bar­ri­ers if the other coun­tries did as well.

Trump did not in­di­cate he had re­ceived any con­ces­sions in his ne­go­ti­a­tions on trade at the sum­mit. Sev­eral other lead­ers have threat­ened re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs.

“If they re­tal­i­ate,” Trump said, “they’re mak­ing a mis­take.”

The other lead­ers at the sum­mit didn’t ad­dress Trump’s re­marks di­rectly, but Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron both posted pho­tos that showed an al­ter­nate per­spec­tive.

“Day two of the G7 sum­mit in Canada: spon­ta­neous meet­ing be­tween two work­ing ses­sions. #G7Charlevoix,” Merkel posted on In­sta­gram with a pho­to­graph of her and Macron star­ing down Trump, who sat with his arms crossed as oth­ers looked on.

Macron posted a photo of lead­ers and aides sur­round­ing Trump, who is one of two peo­ple sitting, as Macron ges­tures at him.

Ne­braska Sen. Ben Sasse, a Repub­li­can who has been crit­i­cal of the pres­i­dent, said if Trump “is ac­tu­ally se­ri­ous about lead­ing the ex­pan­sion of a G-7 no-tar­iff, free-trade agree­ment, that’s tremen­dous, tremen­dous news . ... I would hap­pily carry his bag to ev­ery sin­gle meet­ing of those ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

But “the path to more trade be­gins with less whining on the global stage. ... The con­stant vic­tim-talk doesn’t help any­one,” Sasse said.


Pres­i­dent Trump speaks to re­porters Satur­day dur­ing the G-7 sum­mit in Canada.

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