US President Donald Trump told Group of Seven leaders that the United States wanted a quick end to trade practices that he says have led to an exodus of American companies and jobs to other countries.
Trump, who angered his G7 partners last week with tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the European Union and Mexico as part of his “America First” agenda, vowed to hold firm until US goods had “fair” access to markets.
“The United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades,” Trump said at a press conference on the second day of a two-day summit in Canada.
He said he had suggested to the other G7 leaders that all trade barriers, including tariffs and subsidies, be eliminated.
“You go tariff-free, you go barrier-free, you go subsidy free,” he said. “I did suggest it and people I guess were going to go back to the drawing board.”
Trump denied that the summit had been contentious, a remark that contradicted what one G7 official described as a bitter harangue on Friday between the US president and his counterparts over tariffs.
In an “extraordinary” exchange, Trump repeated a list of grievances about US trade, mainly with the EU and Canada, a French presidency official told reporters.
“And so began a long litany of recriminations, somewhat bitter reports that the United States was treated unfairly, that the trading system was totally unfavorable to the United States, the American economy, American workers, the middle class,” the official said.
“In short, a long, frank rant which is undoubtedly very unusual in this kind of formats,” the official added.
French President Emmanuel Macron responded in a “courteous but very firm tone” to present the European side of the story, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chimed in as well, the official said.
Despite the apparent acrimony, it is likely that the G7 - which groups the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan - will issue a final communique at the end of the summit, a diplomatic source said.
Still, the United States and EU will establish a dialogue on trade within the next two weeks, signaling a modest step forward for the bitterly divided allies of the G7.
Trump's early departure for Singapore for the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un means he will miss a working session among the leaders on climate change and clean energy, as well as talks among the G7 and poorer countries focused on the health of oceans.