Trump torpedoes G7 effort to ease trade spat

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and G7 leaders Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss the joint statement following a breakfast meeting on the second day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said no country benefits from protectionism, and that all measures should be consistent with World Trade Organization rules, as he wrapped up a sometimes contentious summit with other Group of Seven leaders in Canada.

G7 leaders on Saturday papered over cracks in their alliance at a summit in Canada but came away with little more than an agreement to disagree as U.S. President Donald Trump defiantly brandished his “America First” agenda.

Abe said there were moments of “intense debate” during the meeting, which focused on trade.

Trump last week slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the European Union and Mexico. Japan did not win an exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs despite its close security alliance with the United States.

Trump has also threatened to raise tariffs on Japanese auto exports, a move that Japan’s automakers association criticized on Friday.

Abe said that anxiety and dissatisfaction with globalization at times led to protectionism and intense confrontation between countries.

“But we must not turn back the clock,” he said  Abe said.

Abe also said the G7 had expressed support for Trump ahead of his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un in Singapore on Tuesday.

Abe reiterated that Japan would be willing to provide economic aid for Pyongyang if the issues of its nuclear and missile programs, as well as the matter of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents decades ago, were resolved.

“Of course, the problem of North Korea … is not so easily resolved, but we hope this historic U.S.-North Korea summit will be a success and that progress will be made on the issues of nuclear, missiles and the abductees,” he said. “Japan wants to completely cooperate and support this.”

Abe said he hoped the Trump-Kim summit made progress on the abductees issue, but added that ultimately that must be resolved by direct talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang. Abe has made a pledge to resolve the emotive issue of the abductees, kidnapped by Pyongyang’s agents decades ago to help train spies, a pillar of his political career.


Zainab Sa’id