Donald Trump is departing Washington DC for the G7 meeting in Quebec on Friday morning. There will not be a parade in his honor. But before he left, he made a last-minute plea to improve the global economic and political position of the one nation that occupies most of his concerns.
On South Lawn before departing for Canada, Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated in G-8 (which has been the G-7 since the annexation of Crimea)
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) June 8, 2018
Trump also announced that he would be leaving the meeting of the group of industrialized nations four hours early. Which means that he will skip out on the section of the conference devoted to dealing with the environment and climate change.
This comes on the heels of a series of insults leveled at allies that Trump has kept up through the week and into Friday morning. As allied leaders have reached out in concern of Trump’s willingness to label countries such as France and Canada “threats to national security” in order to justify his extraordinary tariffs against imported steel and aluminum, Trump has snapped back, refusing to apologize or justify his statements, and further increasing tensions.
Trump’s statements on trade represent a frightening level of incompetence in dealing with these issues. They treat nation-states as if they are single entities trading Monopoly money around a board
“Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”
It appears that Trump has such a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of global trade, and such a willingness to burn American workers on the altar of his mistaken ideas, that avoiding escalation of his disastrous global trade war may be impossible.
Canada charges the U.S. a 270% tariff on Dairy Products! They didn’t tell you that, did they? Not fair to our farmers!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2018
Trump has been frequently repeating statements that he made in 2016 about high dairy tariffs. Which is true. The US also maintains a complex list of limitations and tariffs on dairy products as dairy farms in both countries are being battered by a global “milk glut.” Canada has lost almost 90 percent of its dairy farms over the last two decades and seems desperate to protect what remains. However, US exports to Canada were up in 2017, with Mexico and Canada being the two largest markets. So Trump’s final threat of the morning—that if he couldn’t solve trade issues at the G7, he would end NAFTA—represents a potential loss of more than $2 billion in revenue to dairy farmers alone.
Trump’s insistence that Russia be returned to the G7, making it once again the G8 seems … a perfect match for everything else he has done. Since Trump seems intent on isolating the United States from its existing allies, perhaps he can announce a new alliance with North Korea and Russia in Singapore.