President Donald Trump, speaking at a summit in Canada on Saturday, said trade between the G-7 nations should be free of tariffs and other barriers, offering an apparent olive branch to U.S. allies as tensions simmer over duties imposed on steel and aluminum.
“No tariffs, no barriers, that’s the way it should be — and no subsidies,” the president said at a press conference, before taking questions.
The president, however, did not elaborate on how or whether the United States would reduce its tariff barriers. Instead, he pointed to Canadian duties on U.S. dairy.
“We don’t want to pay anything — why should we pay?” Trump said. “Ultimately, that’s what you want. You want a tariff free, no barriers and you want no subsidies.”
Trump’s statements come amid historic tensions over trade between the United States and the other G-7 nations, which include America’s closest allies — the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Germany, France and Japan.
The president has imposed steel and aluminium tariffs on every other member of the G-7, citing national security concerns. The move has sparked outrage among U.S. allies and risks isolating the United States at the summit.
It’s unclear whether or not Trump’s proposal for tariff-free trade among the G-7 is being taken seriously by the other nations, and the president himself said it might not work.
After offering what seemed like an olive branch, Trump again railed against what he considers unfair trade practices, saying the United States has been taken advantage of for decades.
“We’re talking to all countries, and it’s going to stop, or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer if we have to do it,” Trump said. “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing, and that ends.”
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday had threatened to exclude the United States from the communique that is traditionally issued by the G-7 nations at the end of their summit.
Trump, hours after Macron’s statement, lashed out at the French President and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over trade, accusing them of levying “massive tariffs” and “non-monetary barriers.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the G-7 can manage to reach an agreement that includes the United States. But Trump called the summit “successful” and said member nations have had “extremely productive conversations on the need for fair and reciprocal trade.”
A French official told Reuters that the G-7 is on track for a joint communique. Trump participated in all exchanges and visibly wanted to contribute to an agreement, the French official said.
Trump is expected to leave the G-7 summit early to fly to Singapore, where he is expected to participate in a historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.