U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday. Photo: AP
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Trump faces limits of go-it-alone stance at G7 summit

30 Comments
By ZEKE MILLER, DARLENE SUPERVILLE and JILL COLVIN

President Donald Trump heads into a summit with global economic powers confronting the consequences of his preference for going it alone in a polarized nation and an interconnected world.

The Group of Seven nations are gathering in a French beach resort town at one of the most unpredictable moments in Trump's tenure, with his public comments and decision-making increasingly erratic and acerbic of late.

Trump, growing more isolated in Washington over his pugnacious ways, faces an even icier reception on the world stage, where a laundry list of geopolitical challenges awaits. Anxiety is growing over a global slowdown and new points of tension with allies are opening on trade, Iran and Russia.

With fears of a financial downturn spreading, increasing the need for cooperation and collective response, Trump arrives Saturday having ridiculed Germany for its economic travails. But he may well need Angela Merkel and others to help blunt the force of China's newly aggressive tariffs on U.S. goods.

Before leaving Washington on Friday, Trump added fresh fuel to the raging trade war with China by declaring that U.S. businesses with dealings in China are "hereby ordered" to begin moving home. There was no immediate explanation of just what he expected or what authority he had to make it happen. He also slapped higher levels of tariffs on Chinese imports.

"Tariffs are working out very well for us," Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for France. "People don't understand that yet."

The president earlier in the day made light of a sharp drop in the financial markets in reaction to his latest trade actions, with a tongue-in-cheek tweet speculating that the Dow's plunge could be tied to the departure of a lower-tier candidate in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In recent days, Trump has sent mixed signals on a number of policy fronts. At one point, he moved to de-escalate the trade conflict in order to ease the impact on consumers during the holiday shopping season. At another, he flip-flopped on the need for tax cuts to stimulate an economy that Trump publicly insists is rocketing.

Feeding Trump's anxiety, aides say, is his realization that the economy — the one sturdy pillar undergirding his bid for a second term — is undeniably wobbly.

Now the president who has long eschewed multilateralism hopes to use his time in Biarritz to rally global leaders around the need to do more to promote economic growth. Before arriving in France, he engineered a late change to the summit agenda, requesting a working session on global economic issues.

For the world leaders, it was the latest example of unpredictability from Trump. After two-and-a-half years of Trump's turbulent presidency, traditional American allies have come to expect the unexpected — and increasingly look elsewhere for leadership.

"They have figured out how to deal with this president," said Jon Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "I think what we're going to see out of this summit is, on the one hand, an effort by countries and the leaders to align with the president, but also an understanding that we'll have to do more without the U.S. president."

The annual G7 summit has historically been used to highlight common ground among the world's leading democracies. But in a bid to work around Trump's impulsiveness, French President Emmanuel Macron has eschewed plans for a formal joint communique from this gathering.

Last year's summit, hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, ended in acrimony after Trump thought the prime minister had slighted the president after he had departed.

Trump then tweeted insults at Trudeau from aboard Air Force One as he flew to a summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un and withdrew his signature from the statement of principles that all seven nations had agreed to.

At his first G7 summit in 2017, Trump's strong feelings against climate change roiled the gathering in Italy.

Trump has made his "America first" priorities clear at every turn.

At a recent campaign rally in New Hampshire, the crowd roared with approval when Trump declared: "I'm the President of the United States of America. I'm not the president of the world."

Addressing the global slowdown isn't the only pressing challenge that Trump has discovered requires multilateral action.

For more than a year, his administration has struggled with persuading European leaders to repatriate captured fighters from the Islamic State. To date his entreaties have been met with deaf ears.

Alterman and Heather Conley, the Europe expert at CSIS, both said Macron appeared to be trying to fill the void left by Trump on the world stage, noting the French leader's recent efforts to try to reduce tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Many of the summit proceedings will take place behind closed doors, in intimate settings designed for the leaders to develop personal relationships with one another.

Trump, White House aides said, is especially looking forward to his sit-down with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the similarly brash pro-Brexit leader whose election he'd backed. On the margins of the annual gathering, Trump has scheduled individual meetings with several of his counterparts, including Macron, Trudeau, Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Also on the agenda will be the clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong; Iran's renewed nuclear enrichment and interference with shipping in the Strait of Hormuz; and the Islamic State prisoners who are currently imprisoned by American-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.

Increasingly fearful of an economic slowdown's potential to diminish his 2020 electoral chances, Trump was expected to press his fellow leaders about what can be done to spur growth in the U.S. and abroad, as well as to open European, Japanese and Canadian markets to American manufacturers and producers. Trump has imposed or threatened to impose tariffs on all three markets in his pursuit of free, fair and reciprocal trade.

It is unclear what substantive steps could be taken by the leaders to address the global slowdown, and much of that discussion stands to be dominated by disagreements on Trump's trade policies.

While on French soil, Trump also intends to raise with Macron and the other leaders the issue of a digital services tax that France has imposed on major technology companies like Google and Facebook despite Trump's threats to slap back with retaliatory tariffs on French wine.

The Trump administration says the tax targets and discriminates against U.S. businesses.

As he headed for the France, the president got in a dig at the host nation, saying of the tax, "It's very unfair. And if they do that, we'll be taxing their wine or doing something else."

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


30 Comments
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The president earlier in the day made light of a sharp drop in the financial markets in reaction to his latest trade actions, with a tongue-in-cheek tweet speculating that the Dow's plunge could be tied to the departure of a lower-tier candidate in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

And this is why he will be voted out, come 2020.

Not even his bigoted followers will support him for causing an economic disaster.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The Ugly American should have done everybody a favor by not going.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Word has it that he really doesn't want to go, for two reasons: he has to share the stage, and he's aware how intensely he is disdained by his counterparts.

He'll b'é in a bad mood for a bit, and Trump in a bad mood is dangerous.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Brace for incoming demented tweets.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

What a plo*nker

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Well, he's not actually going it alone....

Vladimir Putin is sitting squarely on his shoulder, whispering in his ear and pulling his strings....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Rodney Dangerfield arrives.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Trump orders American companies to leave China. Dow falls 600 points. Corporate America protests. Wants freedom.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

An open message to Mr Trump.

If Google, facebook etc are being hounded around the world, where would they go? A: Back to USA, don't you want those high paying jobs back in the good ole?

BTW, don't attack the Feds, they're holding back on interest rate cuts because YOUR tariffs are doing a good job with the trade war already.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Love the picture, even his wife looks like she doesnt understand the man she married!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Rodney Dangerfield arrives.

Hey, come on now - Rodney had twice as much class as this clown....

6 ( +8 / -2 )

And this is why he will be voted out, come 2020. 

Liberals have very high hopes and vote him out with what? What policy? The radical socialism that liberals want will not get any of these socialists into the WH.

Not even his bigoted followers will support him for causing an economic disaster.

Don’t even bet on that. Lol

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

More like a G1 and G6 meeting with Trump mostly out on a limp and upset with the Danes won't sell Greenland. PM Bozo won't sell the NHS. Germany won't built enough tanks. The Chinese trade poo sticking to his shoes. The collapse of Ivanka Chinese business. American recession on the horizon.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

“I'm the President of the United States of America. I'm not the president of the world."

Not presidential at all, wouldn’t trust him to run a school tuck shop.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Trump claims he can devalue the dollar any time he likes?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not even his bigoted followers will support him for causing an economic disaster.

Don’t even bet on that. Lol

I wouldn't bet on it either....

I bet they'll follow him as he tanks our economy, ruins our alliances, tries to silence a free press, starts a war with Iran, praises Neo Nazis and white supremacists, and further divides America for pure political reasons.

They'll follow him as he takes our country right down the toilet - which is exactly what Putin directed him to do...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I am waiting to see him in handcuffs. One year, four months, and 27 days to go.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

He certainly is looking angry lately. And his one-on-ones at the G7 will only be met with further disdain by five of the other six leaders. Boris is a lost cause.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Are we sure that some of Trump's supporters are not working for China or Russia? They seem to want to follow Trump to the ruination of the US. They are more interested in Trump than their own nation.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

They'll follow him as he takes our country right down the toilet - which is exactly what Putin directed him to do...

Some one has been binge watching MSNBC again.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

From Mattis’ resignation letter:

We must do everything we can to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values and we are strengthened in this effort by solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

reciprocal trade or America First? He can't have both

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Demented G1-USA will tread the boards of the world stage in Biarritz in all his glory, donned out in his "New Clothes" to the delight and acclaim of his squealing acolytes. Meanwhile, G6 hereby order him to STFU.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And this is why he will be voted out, come 2020.

Not with the current selection of dem candidates he won't.

Not even his bigoted followers will support him for causing an economic disaster.

I doubt 60 million plus American citizens are bigoted; besides, most of America is getting sick of the phantom of white supremacy let out at every chance by the real bigots.

Anyway, I think the current dip in the market is a necessary evil to be put up with in order to tame China. Once the medicine goes down and is digested things will get better and people will love Trump even more--except the true bigots hiding in progressive clothing.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

They'll follow him as he takes our country right down the toilet - which is exactly what Putin directed him to do...

Some one has been binge watching MSNBC again.

Nah, Putin and Donnie prefer Russia Today....

I doubt 60 million plus American citizens are bigoted; besides, most of America is getting sick of the phantom of white supremacy let out at every chance by the real bigots.

Talk about binge watching - someone's been watching too much Tucker "its a hoax" Carlson...he sure needs another "vacation"....

Anyway, I think the current dip in the market is a necessary evil to be put up with in order to tame China. Once the medicine goes down and is digested things will get better and people will love Trump even more--except the true bigots hiding in progressive clothing.

Love Trump even more? The Trumpers' rhetoric sounds more and more like North Korea....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Trump's the man. We know it. They know it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Trump's the man. We know it. They know it.

Donnie's a Dimwit. We know it. They know it. Everyone knows it....

Just ask Ann Coulter....

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Donnie's a Dimwit. We know it. They know it. Everyone knows it.... Just ask Ann Coulter....

No, you just think it. Everyone else knows he's the man. Just ask Melania.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some one[sic] has been binge watching MSNBC again

Right, as you do not binge watch Fox News and listen to the druggie Limbaugh.

BTW, your politics and your spelling are about equal.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just ask Melania.

Does she speak anymore. You hear her about as often as the Trump son Baron.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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