Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’

Trump’s Looming Trade War Has Asian Allies Seeking Peace

March 6, 2018

As Europe threatens retaliation, others pin hopes on the U.S. bending its planned steel, aluminum tariff rules

Trade unions hold a protest in São Paulo, Brazil, against President Donald Trump’s planned steel and aluminum tariffs, March 5. Some countries are promising retaliation but Asia-Pacific allies have so far avoided making similar outright threats. Photo: miguel schincariol/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Some U.S. trading partners are taking heart from suggestions President Donald Trump might leave wiggle room in his steel and aluminum tariffs, leading to a lobbying blitz for exemptions.

In contrast with Europe, U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region so far are avoiding outright threats of retaliation against American goods. They believe that could be counterproductive when Mr. Trump has yet to make his plans final and faces rifts within his own administration and Republican Party about the tariff plans.

Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko said Tuesday he had spoken with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to express concern about Mr. Trump’s plans for a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum. He said Japan was approaching the U.S. in “various forms” to express its view that Japanese steel wasn’t a threat to U.S. national security.

Meanwhile, South Korea dispatched its trade minister, Kim Hyun-chong, to the U.S. on Tuesday for the second time in the past two weeks. Mr. Kim will “strongly request that the U.S. side make South Korean steel exempt” from the tariffs, a ministry statement said. Another South Korean minister sent a letter to Mr. Ross with the same request.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the possible U.S. tariffs with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday Tokyo time, according to Japanese statements. A spokeswoman in Tokyo said the Australian and Canadian leaders initiated the calls and expressed concerns about the U.S. steps, but it wasn’t clear if the leaders discussed plans to coordinate opposition.

The European Union’s executive arm said Friday it had put together a package of penalties affecting $3.5 billion in U.S. exports and named targets including Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Kentucky bourbon.

Other allies have yet to follow suit in giving specifics. “Japan wants to avoid a negative chain reaction,” said Junichi Sugawara, a researcher at Mizuho Research Institute in Tokyo who specializes in trade. “They don’t want to cause unnecessary friction” especially since Japan relies on its military alliance with the U.S. for defense.

Over the weekend, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said no country would get a tariff exclusion “at this point in time” but there would be “an exemption procedure for particular cases.” Mr. Sugawara said Mr. Trump might be persuaded to exempt high-value-added products in which Japan specializes, meaning the effects “could be considerably lightened.”

Australia’s trade minister, Steve Ciobo, played down suggestions that Australia could follow Europe and retaliate with tariffs of its own, although he said the country could take steps to prevent dumping of excess Chinese and Korean steel in its own market.

Australian officials said Mr. Turnbull, the prime minister, was assured in a meeting with Mr. Trump last July, on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting, that Australian steel and aluminum would be exempted from U.S. tariffs. Australia exports about 500 million Australian dollars (US$388 million) worth of steel and aluminum to the U.S. each year. The U.S. declined to offer any fresh assurances during Mr. Turnbull’s visit to the White House last month.

Over the weekend, Mr. Turnbull offered a vigorous defense of free trade but avoided criticizing Mr. Trump.

“Protectionism is a dead end,” Mr. Turnbull said. “Protectionism is not a shovel to get you out of the low-growth trap, it’s a shovel to dig it a lot deeper. We are absolutely clear: We want to see more trade, more open markets.”

Japan has also been stressing its leadership role in promoting trade. It pushed through an 11-nation version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal after Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact. The 11 nations, which include Australia and Canada, are set to sign the deal in Chile on Thursday.

In their phone call Tuesday, Messrs. Abe and Trudeau “agreed they will work together to expand the realm of free trade,” a Japanese statement said.

—Kwanwoo Jun in Seoul contributed to this article.

Write to Peter Landers at peter.landers@wsj.com and Rob Taylor at rob.taylor@wsj.com

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Trudeau Threatens to Leave Nafta Rather Than ‘Take Any Old Deal’

February 3, 2018

Bloomberg

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made some of his most aggressive comments to date on dealing with U.S. demands to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement, adding he still thinks he can get the right deal for his country.

  • Canada Prime minister comments at B.C. town hall event
  • Remarks come after earlier progress at Nafta talks in Montreal

 

Canada’s Freeland ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ on Nafta Talks

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made some of his most aggressive comments to date on dealing with U.S. demands to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement, adding he still thinks he can get the right deal for his country.

“We aren’t going to take any old deal,” Trudeau said Friday at a town hall in Nanaimo, British Columbia. “Canada is willing to walk away from Nafta if the United States proposes a bad deal. We won’t be pushed around.”

His comments come days after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to get tough on trade, though he didn’t single out Nafta, in his State of the Union address. The latest round of Nafta talks wrapped up in Montreal on Monday, with all sides saying there had been progress, while acknowledging significant gaps remain on some issues.

Trudeau said the 24-year-old pact has been good for both Canada and the U.S. and a reworked deal could still be reached. “Canceling it would be extremely harmful and disruptive to people in the United States,” Trudeau said.

“We are going to keep negotiating in good faith,” he added. “We are confident we are going to be able to get to the right deal for Canada, not just any deal.”

Growing Tension

While Trump said last year he was seeking to just tweak trade ties with Canada — and Mexico looked like the main target of a revamp — the positions have shifted. Growing tensions were evident at the close of round-six of Nafta talks this week in Montreal when U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer lashed out at Canada for filing a sweeping trade case against America at the World Trade Organization in January.

Lighthizer also revived a debate between the two countries over trade-gap statistics and called Canada’s ideas for new auto-content requirements in Nafta as too vague and rowing in the opposite direction of the U.S.’s needs.

Trudeau’s comments on Friday could ratchet up pressures and remind the U.S. that Canada — America’s largest export market — is thinking about life after Nafta if the negotiations collapse.

The Canadian dollar fell as much as 1.4 percent against the greenback shortly after Trudeau’s comments and traded 1.3 percent weaker at C$1.2423 at 4:34 p.m. in Toronto. It is up 1.2 percent against the U.S. dollar this year.

“We don’t view the Trudeau comments as anything more than him stating that Canada wouldn’t sign just any deal,” said Bipan Rai, a Toronto-based foreign-exchange and macro strategist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. “There is still a strong willingness on the Canadian side to get a deal done, but not one that would hurt domestic prospects.”

— With assistance by Maciej Onoszko

Israel’s Netanyahu Urges Europeans To Support Trump and “Fix” The Iran Nuclear Deal

January 24, 2018

Haaretz

Netanyahu tells heads of state at World Economic Forum in Davos that he won’t let Iran establish itself militarily in Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2018.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2018.עמוס בן גרשום / לע”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a number of world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset.

The leaders spoke about the nuclear agreement with Iran, with Netanyahu calling on them to take advantage of the opportunity provided by U.S. President Donald Trump’s ultimatum and improve the deal. Netanyahu is expected to meet with Trump on Thursday afternoon.

Netanyahu once again reiterated he will not allow Iran to establish itself militarily in Syria, adding that Israel is taking action to prevent this. As for the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu’s bureau said in a statement that the government “will not compromise on Israel’s security needs in any future agreement.”

In their meeting, Netanyahu and the Swiss leaders agreed to create new channels for economic cooperation between the two countries. Netanyahu and Trudeau discussed updating the free trade agreement between the two nations and agreed to speed up the negotiations on the matter.

Before leaving for Davos Tuesday, Netanyahu said he would stress the need for changes to the Iran nuclear deal in his meetings with Merkel and Macron.

“In any case, with or without an agreement, our policy is to prevent the terrorist regime in Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, which would endanger us, the Middle East and the entire world,” he said.

Earlier this month, Trump waived sanctions on Iran, allowing the nuclear deal to survive. He, however, stated that this will be the “last time” he waives those sanctions, unless the U.S. and its European allies can find a way to remove “loopholes” in the agreement within the next four months.

Netanyahu’s participation in Davos, like almost everything else going on there throughout the week, will likely be eclipsed by Trump’s Friday appearance.

Trump’s ‘America first’ agenda could easily clash with Davos’ theme of ‘Creating a Shared Future in Fractured World.’ Participants in the forum can experience an exhibit illustrating “a day in the life of a refugee,” hear about ways to uphold the Paris climate accord and promote free trade – or rub elbows with any number of leaders of African countries.

Trump and Netanyahu are expected to meet on Thursday, which will mark their first meeting since Trump announced the U.S. was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The two last met in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Tillerson set to meet Trudeau for N. Korea crisis talks

December 11, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, looks at China’s President Xi Jinping walks to his seat during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool) The Associated Press

OTTAWA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau next week for talks on how to address the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons, an Ottawa source said on Monday.

Canada and the United States are due to co-host a meeting of foreign ministers in Vancouver in January to discuss North Korea.

During a day trip to Ottawa on Dec. 19 Tillerson will also meet Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said the source, who requested anonymity because the meetings have not yet been formally announced.

North Korea has fired missiles over Japan as it pursues nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of U.N. sanctions. Last week it said U.S. and South Korean military drills meant the outbreak of war was “an established fact”. [nL3N1OA05K]

No one in the offices of Trudeau and Freeland was immediately available for comment. The U.S. embassy in Ottawa declined to comment.

Freeland said last month that the Vancouver talks would show the unity of the international community in applying pressure on Pyongyang. [nL1N1NZ2GW]

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Andrew Hay

TPP leaders’ meeting fails to materialise amid disputes

November 10, 2017

DANANG, Vietnam (Reuters) – A planned meeting of leaders of the 11 countries in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to decide on the fate of the trade pact did not take place on Friday, amid disagreements over how to take it forward without the United States.

The leaders were set to meet on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam to discuss how to push ahead with TPP.

Their meeting was preceded by conflicting comments from their delegations on Thursday, when the trade ministers met to firm up a plan to present to the leaders. Japan had said an agreement in principle had been reached, but Canada disputed that.

The spat highlighted the continuing challenge to reviving a pact whose survival was thrown into doubt when President Donald Trump ditched it, in one of his first acts in office, in favour of bilateral deal-making by the United States.

The leaders’ meeting had been scheduled for 0145 local time (0645 GMT), but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to show up, according to people familiar with the matter.

“The meeting did not happen, work remains to be done and that’s what’s happening now,” a Canadian official said.

“We need to get this right and that will take the time it takes. We have to remember, the task officials had going into this week was to present options,” the official said.

Even before the planned meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had told the president of Peru – a TPP member – that he welcomed a broad agreement reached at the TPP ministerial meeting.

Canada, whose economy is the second biggest among the TPP-11 after Japan, said on Wednesday it would not be rushed into a revived TPP deal. Like Mexico, its position is further complicated by renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the Trump administration.

A Vietnamese soldier stands guard at the airport upon arrival of the U.S. President Donald Trump for the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kham

The TPP aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across a bloc whose trade totalled $356 billion last year. It also has provisions for protecting everything from labour rights to the environment to intellectual property – one of the main sticking points.

The original 12 countries had reached agreement on the TPP in 2016, but Trump withdrew, throwing its very survival into doubt.

The absence of the United States had made TPP unattractive for some countries, but Japan had lobbied hard to proceed with a pact that could help to contain China’s growing regional dominance.

TPP countries are discussing suspending certain provisions of the original agreement to avoid having to renegotiate it and potentially, in the long term, to entice the United States back.

Earlier on Friday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he was “reasonably confident” a deal could be reached without the United States. Malaysia is one of the 11 TPP countries.

“We believe TPP is important for the region… The 11 countries led by Japan, we are trying to come up with our new version,” Najib said at a separate panel discussion at the APEC summit.

“I am reasonably confident. I am quite sanguine that we will get a deal but of course it has got to go through the process of ratification,” he said.

Trump set out a strong message on trade at the APEC summit on Friday, saying the United States could no longer tolerate chronic trade abuses and would insist on fair and equal policies. Redressing the balance of trade between Asia and the United States is at the centre of Trump’s “America First” policy he says will protect U.S. workers.

Countering Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Asia-Pacific nations must “uphold multilateralism”. Globalisation was an irreversible trend, but the world must work to make it more balanced and inclusive, Xi told leaders.

Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Nick Macfie

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BBC News

Trump at Apec summit: US will no longer tolerate trade abuses

Donald Trump said he would put “America first” at the Apec summit

President Donald Trump has said the US will no longer tolerate “chronic trade abuses”, in a defiant address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Vietnam.

He said he would always put US interests first and Apec nations should “abide by fair reciprocal trade”.

In stark contrast, China’s Xi Jinping said globalisation was irreversible and voiced support for multilateralism.

Mr Trump is currently on a five-nation Asia tour, with China one of his stops.

Apec brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region – the equivalent of about 60% of the world’s GDP.

Since taking office, President Trump has pursued his “America First” agenda and pulled the US out of the regional Trans-Pacific Partnership – a major trade deal with 12 Apec nations – arguing it would hurt US economic interests.

What did Trump say?

In a speech in the Vietnamese port city of Da Nang on Friday, President Trump railed against the World Trade Organization, which sets global trade laws, and said it “cannot function properly” if all members do not respect the rules.

He complained about trade imbalances, saying the US had lowered market barriers and ended tariffs while other countries had not reciprocated. “Such practices hurt many people in our country,” he said, adding that free trade had cost millions of American jobs.

But he did not lay the blame on Apec countries, and instead accused earlier US administrations of not acting earlier to reverse the trend.

He said America would make bilateral agreements with “any Indo-Pacific partner here who abides by fair reciprocal trade”, but only “on a basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit”.

China's President Xi Jinping (C) arrives to speak on the final day of the APEC CEO Summit ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit in Danang, Vietnam, 10 November 2017Image copyrightEPA
Image captionXi Jinping is promoting China as the champion of free trade

Mr Trump has repeatedly referred to the region as “Indo-Pacific”, a term used to define America’s new geopolitical view of Asia.

The US president had travelled to Da Nang from Beijing, where he had also discussed America’s huge trade imbalance with China. There too, he said he did not blame the country for “taking advantage”.

How did his speech compare to Xi’s?

Speaking minutes after his American counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping took to the podium to espouse his country’s credentials as the new champion of world trade.

Globalisation, he said, was an “irreversible historical trend” but the philosophy behind free trade needed to be repurposed to be “more open, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all”.

In contrast to President Trump, the Chinese leader defended multilateral trade deals, which he said helped poorer nations to benefit.

“We should support the multilateral trading regime and practise open regionalism to allow developing members to benefit more from international trade and investment.”

America First, or the Chinese Dream?

By Karishma Vaswani, Asia business correspondent

President Trump was clear – he wants bilateral trade deals and large, multilateral arrangements don’t work for him. This was a speech saying that America is open for business, but on America’s terms.

Contrast that with China’s Xi Jinping, who spoke about the digital economy, quantum science, artificial intelligence – presenting a vision of the future that is connected, and comprehensive.

Increasingly whenever you see Mr Xi on the international stage he is the poster child for free trade and globalisation. Ironic, given that China itself has yet to become a fully free economy.

The US was the architect of many of the multilateral and free trade agreements for Asia. Under its tutelage, many of these countries opened up and reformed – playing by America’s rules.

But under Donald Trump, that role has gone into reverse. Which has left China with a gaping hole to fill – and one it is only more than happy to take on.

Read more from Karishma

How are US-China trade relations?

The total trade relationship between the US and China was worth $648bn last year, but trade was heavily skewed in China’s favour with the US amassing a nearly $310bn deficit.

Mr Trump has in the past accused China of stealing American jobs and threatened to label it a currency manipulator, though he has since rowed back on such rhetoric.

Bar chart shows US trade with Asia market
Graph shows US trade with China since 1985

During the US president’s visit on Thursday, China announced it would further lower entry barriers in the banking, insurance, and finance sectors, and gradually reduce vehicle tariffs.

Mr Xi promised “healthy” and “balanced” economic and trade relations.

Deals worth $250bn (£190bn) were also announced, although it was unclear how much of that figure included past agreements or potential future deals. At the same time, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told journalists the deals were “pretty small” in terms of tackling the trade imbalance.

Before the Beijing talks, Mr Trump in Tokyo lashed out at Japan, saying it “has been winning” on trade in recent decades.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will also be making a speech at the Apec summit. Japan had a $69bn (£52.8bn) trade surplus with the US in 2016, according to the US Treasury department.

It’s unclear whether Mr Trump will address human rights issues in Vietnam

After attending the Apec summit, Mr Trump will pay a state visit to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Mr Trump will end his 12-day Asian tour in the Philippines on 13 November.

Britain, US ‘turning inward’, Canadian PM says in Ireland

July 4, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, left, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Farmleigh, Ireland’s state guest house, in Dublin

DUBLIN (AFP) – Britain and the United States are “turning inward,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a press conference with his Irish counterpart on Tuesday in which both leaders took swipes at their heavyweight neighbours.Trudeau also said during a visit to Dublin that there were “clear disagreements” with the United States ahead of the G20 summit this week, where US President Donald Trump is expected to attend.

“The choices made by the United States on trade and climate change are at odds with the majority of G20 countries, or even all the other G20 countries,” he said after talks with Ireland’s Leo Varadkar.

Trudeau predicted that there would be “robust and honest exchanges about how to serve not only our citizens but the whole planet” at the summit, while adding that such meetings were also a chance to try to find “common ground”.

The United States and Canada are locked in a trade dispute, with the US accusing Canada of exporting its products at unfairly low “dumping” prices.

Canada is also a major supporter of the Paris Agreement to combat global warming, which Trump has said he wants to pull out of.

Both leaders issued thinly veiled criticism of their neighbours’ politics.

“There are tremendous opportunities for countries like Canada and Ireland, at a time where perhaps our significant allies and trading partners in the case of both the US and the UK are turning inward or at least turning into a different direction,” Trudeau said.

The sentiment was echoed by Varadkar, who reiterated his country’s commitment to the European Union as it prepares for Britain’s exit from the bloc.

“We each share a relationship with a very big neighbour, a neighbour that has to a certain extent decided to go in a different direction at least for the time being,” he said.

Varadkar said that “unfortunately” Britain had chosen to leave the European Union and would not be able to negotiate free-trade agreements like the one between Canada and the EU until it has officially left.

“I can’t see a scenario where Britain could remain a member of the EU, even in transitional period, and then negotiate other trade deals on their own”.

Varadkar, the son of an Indian migrant and Ireland’s first openly gay prime minister, said he and Trudeau had discussed a wide range of issues, including the benefits of immigration and diversity.

“Both countries and both governments are committed to multilateralism as the best means by which we can solve the world’s problems,” Varadkar said.

Merkel Mustering G20 Support on Climate Ahead of July Summit: Sources

June 10, 2017

MEXICO CITY/BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking to bolster support among G20 members for tackling climate change ahead of a summit in Hamburg next month, while trying to avoid giving the impression she is rallying an anti-U.S. alliance, German government sources say.

Merkel is ready for dissent at the meeting, however, after U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from a global climate change agreement, they said.

Merkel told an audience in Argentina on Friday that as host of the G20, she would have to be up front about differences if all 20 highly industrialized countries failed to see eye to eye on climate and other issues, as the final communique requires unanimous consent.

Image result for Angela Merkel, Mexico, photos

“There will be issues where not everyone gets what we want,” Merkel said, a clear nod to Trump’s move to pull out of the 2015 Paris accord to combat climate change days after refusing to endorse it at summits in Europe.

At the same time, Merkel, a strong advocate of the Paris accord, must stay true to her views at home, where she is seeking a fourth term in office in September national elections and where Trump remains deeply unpopular.

During visits to Argentina and Mexico, Merkel highlighted her shared views with the leaders of both countries on climate change, trade and other issues.

“Germany is looking for allies on issues that are important to us,” Merkel said after a meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that her staff have drawn up a 13-page paper for the July G20 summit that includes specific references to the 2015 Paris agreement – setting up a potential showdown with Trump.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has suggested striking out the references to enable Trump to sign the communique, the magazine reported.

Government sources say Merkel needs Trump’s support to make the G20 summit a success, however, and his willingness to compromise could wane if he perceives her as his enemy.

Indeed, she told students in Buenos Aires that it was vital to maintain dialogue even with those who hold different views.

“Because if I talk with someone, I can no longer simply say he is stupid,” she said.

Image result for air pollution, china, photos

Complicating the issue further for Merkel, however, her foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel of junior coalition partners the Social Democrats, wants as many G20 countries as possible to underscore their continued support for the Paris deal at the July summit.

“The G20 cannot result in a silent unity against the climate agreement,” he told the magazine.

A recent poll by Infratest dimap showed that only 21 percent of German voters viewed the United States as a reliable partner, a drop of eight percentage points from April that put it on the same level as Russia and far below China on 36 percent.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Italy Still Isolated in Shouldering Migration Crisis After G7

May 27, 2017

TAORMINA, Italy — Italy chose to host a Group of Seven summit of wealthy nations on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean, looking to draw attention to the migrant crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of people set sail from Africa in search of a better life in Europe.

But world leaders on Saturday said little that will help Italy manage the steady flow of migrants to its shores or enable it to cope with the growing number of new arrivals.

“Even though this summit took place in Sicily, a stone’s throw from where so many migrants have died, it produced no concrete steps to protect vulnerable migrants or to address the root causes of displacement and migration,” said Roberto Barbieri, the local director of humanitarian group Oxfam.

Rome had hoped to persuade other major industrialized nations to open more legal channels for migration and to focus attention on food security — policies which were meant to lower the number of people who set off for Europe.

Africans have been fleeing toward Europe in the thousands. Most that don’t drown end up in Italy. © AFP/File

But the plan was scrapped before the two-day summit even started, with the United States, Britain and Japan unwilling to commit to major new immigration initiatives.

The final communique outlined medium-term commitments to bolster African economies and promote sustainable agriculture, but it focused more on the need for each country to guarantee national security than on how to limit migration.

Countries “reaffirm the sovereign rights of states to control their own borders and set clear limits on net migration levels,” said the communique.

“DESPERATE MEASURES”

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the language was decided “weeks ago” by diplomats from G7 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the United States.

“It wasn’t an issue that was the focus of debate, other than recognizing the humanitarian importance of taking people in as this region has done,” Gentiloni said of Sicily, which has seen hundreds of thousands of migrants arrive since 2014.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there had been “excellent” discussion on the need boost economic opportunity, in particular during outreach sessions with five African leaders on Saturday, so that people “are not driven to take desperate measures to improve their lot”.

Both the United States and Britain opposed the Italian pre-summit initiative to draft a stand-alone G7 statement entitled “G7 Vision on Human Mobility”, an Italian official said.

That document included language on the need for open, safe and legal paths for migrants and refugees, according to excerpts seen by Reuters.

Italy has been put under increasing pressure as EU partners have refused to relocate large numbers of asylum seekers, and some have closed their southern borders to keep migrants out of their own countries, effectively sealing them in Italy.

More than 175,000 asylum seekers live in Italian shelters. With sea arrivals at a record pace this year, the issue is hotly debated by politicians facing a general election within a year.

Over the past 10 days, almost 10,000 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya, where people smugglers cram them onto unsafe boats. Dozens died, including many children.

“We know that the deadliest season is upon us. It starts pretty much now, at least it has for the last few years,” Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said on Friday.

“We expect these coming weeks to be much worse.”

(With additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Trump, G7 Leaders Seek Deals on Terrorism, Trade, Climate

May 26, 2017

TAORMINA, Sicily — The differences are well-known: climate change, trade and migration threaten to throw a summit of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies off its consensus game, with U.S. President Donald Trump cast as the spoiler-in-chief. But it may not play out exactly that way, according to long-time G7 observers.

“It is a forum made for Donald Trump’s particular style. It is highly informal, highly interactive and they speak in very colloquial language to each other,” said John Kirton, director of the G7 Research Group at the University of Toronto. “It is the ultimate lonely hearts club. No one understands how tough it is to have the top job except the peers with the top job in other countries.”

While Trump has met all of the leaders one on one, this will be the first time all seven are around the same table, including also newcomers Emmanuel Macron of France, Theresa May of Britain and the Italian host, Paolo Gentiloni — forging a new dynamic after a year of global political turmoil amid rising nationalism.

Climate policy promises to be the real buzzkill at the G7 party. Endorsing measures to combat terror is expected to find easy agreement, especially after the attack on an English pop music concert killed 22 people Monday night. But some of the trust that fuels such meetings was undermined by a leak of British intelligence in the Manchester attack blamed on a U.S. official, prompting the Britain to decide not to share further intelligence in the case. Trump is also going against the grain on trade with more protectionist stand

His pending review of U.S. climate policies and decision not to make up his mind before Taormina has braced environmentalists for the possibility of bland language that says little after years of increasingly stronger commitments to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and emissions of in greenhouse gases under the Paris Agreement.

“What we do not want to see is a false compromise on nothing,” said Tobias Muenchmeyer, a political expert for Greenpeace. “We want to see determination and commitment over unity,” with the other partners going ahead without the United States.

Trump’s attempts to impose a U.S. travel ban on some Muslim countries contrast with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s position that immigration is a source of strong, sustainable inclusive growth. Sicily is on the front lines in Europe’s migration crisis, the first landfall for most of the more than 180,000 migrants who arrived in Italy last year — and the reason the Italian government chose Sicily as the backdrop for this summit.

Kirton said Trump has demonstrated the ability to come to bilateral agreements, and it is possible that Taormina will yield deals for which he can claim credit at home. But his volatile style could upend even summit decisions.

“It is always possible the president will change his mind even before he lands in Washington and fire off some more tweets,” Kirton said.

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ABC News

President Donald Trump will continue his marathon of meetings with world leaders Friday on the fifth stop of his overseas trip in Taormina, Italy, when he attends his first Group of Seven(G7) summit.

The annual meeting convenes the leaders of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and Canada to discuss and promote solutions for major world issues.

But in contrast to the collaborative and at times even playful demeanor leaders would assume during the eight years President Barack Obama was in office, Trump’s emergence so far on the diplomatic circuit has shown his willingness to use the meetings to confront world leaders and openly express his grievances.

Trump’s speech at the opening of a new NATO memorial Thursday aimed to publicly call out countries who may not have paid their full share in recent years. It also rattled some diplomatic experts over the president’s decision to not explicitly express the U.S. commitment to NATO’s Article 5 collective defense treaty.

A key issue expected to be on the summit’s agenda is Trump’s weighing of whether to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, a decision that several leaders of the G7 countries have expressed could significantly undermine global efforts to combat climate change.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters aboard Air Force One Wednesday that the president would make his decision whether to exit the treaty upon his return to the U.S.

Also under the microscope during Trump’s meetings have been his body language and interactions with other heads of state. In particular reporters and social media have pointed out his lengthy handshake with newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, his alleged “shove” to move in front of Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and his face-to-face with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who expressed dismay over an alleged U.S. leak of British intel from the investigation into the Manchester bombing.

In the evening following his meetings, Trump and the first lady will attend a G7 concert by La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra before the leaders and their spouses sit down for dinner.

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Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe looks to win Trump’s trust in White House talks

February 10, 2017

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON

The Associated Press

This combination file photo shows Donald Trump, right, stands on the 14th fairway during a pro-am round of the AT&T National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. on June 27, 2012, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, playing golf in Yamanakako village, west of Tokyo, on July 23, 2016. If they stick to schedule, Abe and Trump will spend more time on the fairway than at the White House. After facing off on some divisive issues in Washington on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, they are jetting to Florida, where they will turn to something they have in common on Saturday: a love of golf. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, right, Kyodo News via AP, left, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s meeting with Japan’s prime minister offers a chance to shore up a long-standing security alliance and repair economic ties shaken by U.S. withdrawal from a Pacific trade pact.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is expected to propose more Japanese investment in the U.S., has wasted no time in trying to win Trump’s trust. He was the only world leader to meet the Republican before inauguration, and will be the second to do so since the new president took office.

Trump and Abe will hold talks in the Oval Office on Friday, followed by a joint news conference and a working lunch. Trump will then host Abe and his wife at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. The two leaders are scheduled to play golf on Saturday.

Other leaders of America’s closest neighbors and allies, such as Mexico, Britain and Australia, have been singed by their encounters or conversations with Trump. But Japanese officials are optimistic the invitation to visit Trump’s “Winter White House” signals a more positive outcome.

Although the U.S. administration is only three weeks old, some repair work is already in order. Trump’s “America First” rhetoric and campaign trail demands that allies pay more for their own defense sowed doubts in Tokyo about the new administration’s commitment to an alliance that has underpinned security in the Asia-Pacific since the end of World War II and one which Abe has sought to strengthen.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis allayed many of those concerns during a trip to Japan and South Korea last week. Both countries host tens of thousands of U.S. forces — seen as a deterrent against the nuclear threat from North Korea and China’s growing assertiveness.

A senior U.S. official said that the Trump administration is upholding the U.S. position that its defense treaty with Japan applies to East China Sea islands disputed by Japan and China — a stance opposed by Beijing. The president is expected to speak on that subject, the official said.

The official spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss the planning for the trip ahead of Abe’s arrival in Washington late Thursday.

The economic side of the U.S.-Japan relationship is more uncertain.

One of Trump’s first actions as president was to withdraw the U.S. from a 12-nation, trans-Pacific trade agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and strongly supported by Tokyo.

Trump has also criticized Toyota Motor Corp. for planning to build an assembly plant in Mexico and complained Japanese don’t buy enough U.S.-made cars.

But Japanese companies are already major employers in the U.S., and Japanese officials say they are hammering out a job-creation package of infrastructure investments to propose during Abe’s visit.

Abe has said that Japan may be open to a bilateral trade deal with the U.S., which is Trump’s preference, but reaching such a deal would be politically difficult. Japan logged the second-largest trade surplus with the U.S. last year, similar to the surpluses of Germany and Mexico, but far smaller than China’s.

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