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Trump seizes the G7 to push his trade agenda

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — US President Donald Trump took the G7 summit to push his trade agenda between announcing a “very big” trade deal with Japan and promising a prosperous future with Britain, ignoring calls from his partners to reduce the escalation of his war.

Smiling alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said they had reached a “very big deal.”

At the end of one of those bilateral meetings accompanying the talks of the leaders of the seven major industrial countries meeting until Monday in the resort of Biarritz in southwestern France, Trump announced on Sunday to reach a “preliminary” trade agreement between Washington and Tokbu.

“We have reached consensus” after “intense negotiations,” Abe said, “but we still have to do some work … especially to reach the final version of the agreement” covering the agriculture and e-commerce sectors.

After five months of negotiations, the text could be formally signed at the UN General Assembly in September, the president said, describing the agreement as important.

Trump has repeatedly condemned the “huge imbalance” in the bilateral trade balance in favor of Japan, calling for “more balanced” relations.

Negotiators agreed in particular to reduce tariffs on US meat imported to Japan, in return for the United States to abolish tariffs on a large number of industrial products imported from Japan, but it will now keep tariffs on cars to be discussed later, according to NHK Japanese Television Network.

– “The right man” –

In the afternoon, the US president also held a very first friendly meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, while waving a “very big” trade agreement.

“He’s the right man for the job,” Trump said, expressing a rapprochement with Johnson, who is attending the G7 summit intent on defending Brexit.

He promised Britain “a very large trade agreement, more quickly than any previous agreement” after Britain’s exit from the European Union on October 31.

For his part, Johnson said that the two countries will reach a “wonderful trade agreement once the obstacles are removed,” while London urgently needs such an agreement to absorb the anticipated trade shock caused by Brexit.

As for his trade war with Beijing in the face of heavy reciprocal tariffs that echo the markets and raise fears of allies about the consequences on the global economy, Trump sticks to his positions, ignoring the calls of his partners to defuse the crisis.

After Trump hinted earlier in the day that he could soften his position by declaring that he was “rethinking all the issues,” his spokeswoman Stephanie Gresham explained: “The president was asked whether he wanted to change his position on the escalation of the trade war with China.

“President Trump responded positively because he regretted not raising tariffs further.”

Trump’s only concession, according to US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin in Biarritz, is that he has the authority to ask US companies to stop doing business in China, but he “hasn’t.”

The trade war between the world’s two major economic powers has been escalating since Trump’s first measures in March 2018 against China targeting steel and aluminum at high tariffs, risking major economic confusion.

Beijing on Friday announced new customs measures targeting US products worth 75 billion dollars. Washington responded immediately to increase tariffs from 25 to 30 percent over 250 billion dollars in Chinese goods. The rest of the $ 300 billion in imports from China will raise duties from 10 to 15 percent.

Beijing vowed on Saturday that the United States would bear the “consequences” of such “harassment.”

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