G7 summit fails to heal trade rift as Trump exits early

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Attendees, including the host, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C), pose for a G7 and outreach countries summit as part of a G7 summit in the Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. (Reuters)
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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers opening remarks as US President Donald Trump’s seat sits unfilled during the start of the Gender Equality Advisory Council breakfast during the G-7 summit in the Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. (Reuters)
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French President Emmanuel Macron looks at US President Donald Trump (R) as they attend the Gender Equality Advisory Council Breakfast during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. (AFP)
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US President Donald Trump speaks with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde as they attend the Gender Equality Advisory Council Breakfast during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. (AFP)
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President Donald Trump listens during the Gender Equality Advisory Council breakfast during the G-7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. From left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and Trump. (AP)
Updated 10 June 2018

G7 summit fails to heal trade rift as Trump exits early

  • Trump delivers a stern warning on trade to foreign countries at the G7 summit, advising trading partners not to retaliate against US tariffs
  • Trump injected additional controversy by suggesting the G7 offer a seat at the table to Russia, which was ousted in 2014

LA MALBAIE, Canada: The Group of Seven leaders on Saturday failed to heal a tariff dispute that has pushed them to the brink of trade war, as Donald Trump quit their summit early warning Canada, Japan and Europe that “the gig is up.”
Trump had come to Quebec insisting on his long-standing claim that America has been exploited for too long by existing trade arrangements — and he was met by counterparts equally determined to protect the “rules-based” international system.
The US president left on Saturday for Singapore and a historic summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, claiming he had made progress convincing the other G7 leaders that trade between their countries must be better balanced or halt altogether.
“The United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades,” Trump said at a press conference on the second day of the two-day summit.
“I guess they’re going to go back to the drawing board and check it out, right?” he said, warning that if his fellow six leaders make good on their threats to take retaliatory measures, they could find themselves shut out of American markets.
European officials said Trump had opposed language in the draft final summit communique on the need to bolster the World Trade Organization and multilateral oversight of commerce, but that this commitment would survive.
“For us, it was important to have a commitment to rules-based trade,” Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
“On the issue of trade, we have been able to agree on important questions to us,” she added, stressing that it was “important to have a commitment to rules-based trade.”
Merkel acknowledged, however, that major differences remained between the US and its partners in the group which includes the world’s seven most industrialized economies.
“This is not a detailed solution to our problems. The differences in opinion have not been taken off the table.”
The German leader said there was “a common conviction” about the need for changes to the WTO, although it was not immediately clear if there would a clear call for reform in the final statement.
As the leaders met, Trump played a wild card, suggesting that rather than both sides boosting retaliatory tariffs — as he has just done on steel and aluminum — they could declare for entirely free trade in the G7 zone.
“No tariffs, no barriers. That’s the way it should be. And no subsidies. I even said, ‘no tariffs’!” Trump insisted. “That would be the ultimate thing, whether or not that works, but I did suggest it.”
Trump’s utopian idea was greeted with skepticism — “Good luck. That would be a leap into a very different world,” declared one senior European official — with leaders pointing to the many regulations and non-tariff barriers that limit free trade.
French President Emmanuel Macron, for example, noted that under European Union rules France currently has open borders with Britain and Germany and runs trade deficits with both — far from Trump’s vision of “reciprocal” balanced trade.
European officials suggested that the upbeat, punchy news conference that Trump delivered before skipping out on the summit was aimed at his trade-skeptic supporters back home, and did not reflect the results of the summit.
“We’re talking to all countries,” he said, denouncing what he said were huge existing tariffs on US exports around the world. “It’s going to stop. Or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer, if we have to do it.
“If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake,” he warned, insisting that the United States has much less to lose than its partners in the event of world trade breaking down. “We will win that war 1,000 times.”
The text of the annual G7 joint communique is usually all but finalized before the leaders meet for two days of glad-handing and group photo opportunities, but this year officials were still negotiating even as Trump headed for his plane.
Whatever the text eventually says, Canada’s summit will be remembered mainly for fierce disagreements over Trump’s tariffs and his surprise request to return Russia to the G7 fold, four years after its expulsion over the annexation of Crimea.
While diplomats wrangled in private, summit host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gathered the other leaders for a breakfast session on women’s equality. Trump arrived 17 minutes after the planned 8:00am start time and after Trudeau’s opening remarks.
With his wife Melania back home in Washington, Trump cut a lonely figure on arrival at the golf resort in rural Quebec as he posed with his host Trudeau and his wife Sophie and other first couples.
A member of Macron’s team characterized the talks as “frank and robust,” with Trump first repeating his lengthy diatribe about what he regards as unfair trade restrictions — before the Europeans responded with facts and figures they felt would blunt his argument.
Trudeau told Trump that it was “unacceptable” to cite national security when targeting a military ally like Canada.
The summit was wrapping up just as Chinese President Xi Jinping begins hosting the leaders of Russia and Iran at a two-day regional security meeting in a symbol of the power-play between East and West.


China's aviation regulator raised concerns with Boeing on 737 MAX design changes

Updated 12 December 2019

China's aviation regulator raised concerns with Boeing on 737 MAX design changes

  • China is reviewing the airworthiness of the plane
  • China was first country to ground plane in March

BEIJING: China’s aviation regulator raised “important concerns” with Boeing Co. on the reliability and security of design changes to the grounded 737 MAX, it said on Thursday, but declined to comment on when the plane might fly again in China.
China is reviewing the airworthiness of the plane based on proposed changes to software and flight control systems according to a bilateral agreement with the United States, Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) spokesman Liu Luxu told reporters at a monthly briefing.
He reiterated that for the plane to resume flights in China, it needed to be re-certified, pilots needed comprehensive and effective training to restore confidence in the model and the causes of two crashes that killed 346 people needed to be investigated with effective measures put in place to prevent another one.
China was the first country to ground the 737 MAX after the second crash in Ethiopia in March and had set up a task force to review design changes to the aircraft that Boeing had submitted.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not allow the 737 MAX to resume flying before the end of 2019, its chief, Steve Dickson, said on Wednesday.
Once the FAA approves the reintroduction into service, the 737 MAX can operate in the United States, but individual regulators could keep the planes grounded in other countries until they complete their own reviews.
“Due to the trade war, the jury is still out on when China would reintroduce the aircraft,” said Rob Morris, Global Head of Consultancy at Ascend by Cirium.
Chinese airlines had 97 737 MAX jets in operation before the global grounding, the most of any country, according to Cirium Fleets Analyzer.