Mon, Jun 04, 2018 - Page 16 News List

G7 finance ministers call US out on divisive tariffs

GROUP STATEMENT:The other six members of the G7 said that a united front is needed to deal with economic and security issues, but the US levies have put that at risk

AP, WHISTLER, British Columbia

The US was on Saturday singled out by some of its closest allies over the imposition of tariffs that they warn would undermine open trade and weaken confidence in the global economy.

The dispute over US President Donald Trump’s new levies on steel and aluminum imports is driving a wedge in the G7 group of industrial nations.

Following the conclusion of a three-day meeting of G7 finance ministers, Canadian Minister of Finance Bill Morneau issued a summary saying that the other six members want Trump to hear their message of “concern and disappointment” over the US trade actions.

Allies including Canada and the EU are threatening retaliatory tariffs.

The G7 ministers urged US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to deliver their message before leaders of the group’s member countries meet on Friday and Saturday in Quebec, adding that the US should abandon the tariffs ahead of the leaders’ summit before the move causes deeper divisions within the G7.

“The international community is faced with significant economic and security issues, which are best addressed through a united front from G7 countries,” said the summary, which was agreed to by the attending ministers.

“Members continue to make progress on behalf of our citizens, but recognize that this collaboration and cooperation has been put at risk by trade actions against other members,” it added.

French Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire was blunt in his assessment of the Whistler, British Columbia, meeting, where ministers confronted Mnuchin.

“It has been a tense and tough G7 — I would say it’s been far more a G6 plus one than a G7,” said Le Maire, who called the tariffs unjustified.

“We regret that our common work together at the level of the G7 has been put at risk by the decisions taken by the American administration on trade and on tariffs,” he said.

Mnuchin disagreed with Le Maire.

“I think there was a comment out there that [this was] the G6 plus one. It was not... We believe in the G7, it’s an important group,” Mnuchin said at his own news conference. “I’m sure that the president looks forward to coming to Canada and meeting all the other leaders with many, many important issues going on throughout the world.”

Morneau, who presided at the ministerial meeting, said that even though the group found common ground on many subjects, G7 members are now forced to do whatever they can to persuade Trump to withdraw the tariffs.

“They actually are destructive, and that’s consistently held across the six countries that expressed their point of view to Secretary Mnuchin,” Morneau said.

The US tariffs are “absurd,” as Canadian metal sales are no security risk to the US and the measures would destroy jobs on both sides of the border, Morneau has said previously.

Le Maire said it is up to the US to take action to rebuild confidence among G7 members and to avoid any escalation during the upcoming leaders’ summit.

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