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Date TimeJune 09, 2018
VoiceGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel is proposing to create a forum to defuse escalating trade tensions with the U.S., as Group of Seven leaders seek to convince President Donald Trump to step back from his tariffs action against allies.
European Union leaders met early Friday in La Malbaie, near the Maine border, ahead of the formal kickoff of the G7 leaders’ summit. Merkel proposed a “shared evaluation mechanism” on U.S. trade, a notion backed in particular by French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, according to a French official who briefed reporters on the meeting.
Merkel proposes trade dispute body as G7 summit begins
Trade — particularly U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed last week, which prompted retaliation from the EU, Canada and others — is looming over the meeting, punctuated by Trump’s comments on Twitter on Friday that the U.S. is the one being treated unfairly over trade.
The sharp disagreements are making it difficult for nations to come up with a traditional concluding statement from the meeting, outlining the G7 nations’ shared goals. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he’ll refuse to sign a final communique if there’s no progress on the tariffs and other sticking points.
Trump was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Macron on Friday evening and to attend a dinner with the G7 leaders.
The other six nations are pushing for the G7 to affirm “collective trade rules” in the communique, the French official said. Trump brought his hawkish trade czar, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, along for the trip.
The tariff standoff is a complicated issue for the EU — each country is exposed to different sectors, and could be impacted differently in the event of an escalation. Trump, for instance, is considering imposing tariffs on auto imports on national security grounds, a move that would hurt major foreign auto producers such as Germany.
Merkel has repeatedly called for a strengthening of the World Trade Organization and for the establishment of mechanisms aimed at preventing future trade disputes. It wasn’t clear how her proposed trade forum at the G7 would differ from the WTO’s dispute resolution functions.
“We need again a multilateral trade agreement,” Merkel said at a business summit last month. “As we all see right now, something has become unstable and the situation is quite difficult. It is therefore important to create a reliable common legal framework and mechanisms for settling trade disputes, which are accepted by everybody.”

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