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President Trump pitches 'Tariff free' Trade Zone to G-7 Allies

President Donald Trump on Saturday said that the Group of Seven industrialized nations should become a “tariff-free” zone but warned that other countries must first change their own trade polices and stop using the U.S. as “a piggy bank everyone is robbing.”
In a solo press conference before he departed the G-7 summit in Quebec, Mr. Trump dismissed suggestions of tensions between him and his G-7 counterparts — describing the relationship as “a 10” — and blaming past U.S. leaders for “bad” trade deals.
Mr. Trump spoke in La Malbaie, Canada, ahead of his departure to Singapore for his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“I congratulate the leaders of other countries for so crazily being able to make these trade deals that were so good for their countries and so bad for the United States,” Mr. Trump said. “But those days are over.”
The U.S. leader indicated his administration would continue to take a tough stance on trade policy as he called for “no tariffs, no barriers … and no subsidies.”
Mr. Trump said that American farmers and workers have been hurt, with companies moving abroad to Mexico and Canada. “Now we’re going to fix that situation. And if it’s not fixed, we’re not going to deal with these countries,” he said.
He warned his allies he would fight back with tariffs if trading relationships didn’t change.
“There is no reason we should have large trade deficits with virtually every country of the world,” Mr. Trump said.
The G-7 has never been a tariff-free bloc. Member countries trade among one another under various agreements. The Trump administration recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, a move followed last week by reciprocal tariff announcements on a broad range of U.S. products.
As he was leaving the summit he said the other nations in the bloc “were going to go back to the drawing board and figure it out.” Representatives from the other G-7 countries weren’t immediately available to comment on Mr. Trump’s remarks.
The U.S. president also reiterated his belief that Russia should be allowed back into the group of industrial nations for the sake of world peace, a position that earlier received lukewarm reception from some other members and was rejected outright by Canada.
Mr. Trump’s dismissal of tensions among the G-7 run counter to the strong disagreement among the leaders at an afternoon session on the economy and trade Friday, that saw Mr. Trump pitted against the six other countries, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.
The topic of Russia rejoining the G-7 came up at a working dinner Friday between the leaders, the official said, where Mr. Trump repeated his wish to have Russian President Vladimir Putin back at the G-7 table. Russia was expelled from the group four years ago after its annexation of Crimea. The other leaders didn’t support the idea of reinstatement, the official said.
There were also sharp words exchanged with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the summit, with Mr. Macron saying at a Thursday news conference in Ottawa with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the U.S.’s metals tariffs against the EU and Canada are pushing the six remaining nations of the G-7 to become a force of their own.
Mr. Trump fired back with a message on Twitter that said, “Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers.”
One official said the members did, however, find common ground on the desire to denuclearize North Korea. Leaders expressed full support for seeking complete, irreversible, verifiable denuclearization, the official said.
Mr. Trump arrived 17 minutes late for a working breakfast on gender equality Saturday morning, raising eyebrows among some participants. He had planned to leave the summit early, ahead of meetings on climate change and coastal communities.
Source: Dow Jones