Eli Ridder | CANADA
The French economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, warned that a trade war with the United States could launch in the coming days as finance ministers met in Canada’s Whistler ahead of a Group of Seven meeting in Quebec next week.
The U.S. imposed 25 per cent steel and 10 per cent aluminum tariffs, levies that were previously avoided, on Canada, Mexico and the European Union on May 31, angering close allies as Washington cited “national security concerns”.
Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom asked U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to bring President Donald Trump “a message of regret and disappointment”, Canada’s Bill Morneau said at the end of a press conference.
“We’re concerned that these actions are actually not conducive to helping our economy, they actually are destructive,” Mr. Morneau said, as the three-day talks wrapped up in British Columbia ahead of the G7 summit.
In a statement issued by Canada, the G7 finance officials agreed that “decisive action is needed” on the tariff issue the summit next week in Charlevoix, and Mr. Mnuchin denied accusations that the U.S. was abandoning its leadership or cheating trade.
The U.S. Treasury chief said he has already relayed some of the G7 comments to Trump and added that the U.S. president would address trade issues with other G7 leaders, but declined to speculate on any outcomes.
France’s Mr. Le Maire said Washington has only a few days to avoid sparking a trade war with its allies and it is up to the U.S. administration to make a move to de-escalate tensions over the levies, with the EU set to take countermeasures.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this week when the tariffs came into place that the move is “totally unacceptable”, with Ottawa planning impose tariffs of up to 25 per cent on about $13 billion worth of U.S. exports starting July 1.
Domestically, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the move “targets America’s allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China”.
The gathering of economic leaders in Quebec will mark the first visit by Mr. Trump to Canada in his role as U.S. president, who was the first commander-in-chief in 40 years, since Jimmy Carter, not to visit Canada in his first calendar year in office.