This year’s G7 summit, which begins Friday in Canada, is set to be unusually ill-tempered, with the U.S. facing off against the other six in the group: Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and the U.K.
But what is the G7, and why is the outlook for this year’s meeting so glum? Here’s what you need to know.
What is the G7?
The Group of Seven (G7) includes the work’s richest countries, the leaders of which meet each year in order to discuss and coordinate their economic policies. The G7’s finance ministers meet more often.
Officials from the European Union also attend the meetings. This year’s G7 summit, which will take place in Charlevoix, Quebec, is the 44th.
So what’s the issue?
In a word? Trump. The U.S. president has recently whacked all the other members of the G7 with hefty steel and aluminum tariffs and is threatening to also impose tariffs on car imports, which would also hit them hard.
Apart from this nascent trade war, Trump has also pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, threatening foreign companies that still want to do business there. And let us not forget the American withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement a year ago.
Busy year, huh. What was last year’s G7 like?
Tense, although Trump did set people’s minds at rest by agreeing to language in the final joint statement that indicated he was backing the fight against protectionism. That didn’t turn out to be the case at all. Trump also said at the time that he was undecided about the climate change agreement. Then he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris accord the following week.
So what will this year’s joint statement say?
Good question—and there’s a solid chance that it won’t be signed by the U.S. at all. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said yesterday that this doesn’t mean there won’t be an agreement.
Macron also said this to reporters, setting the current diplomatic tone quite nicely: “When you’re saying that President Trump doesn’t really care, maybe you’re right, but no one lives forever.”
Meanwhile, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has warned that Trump’s tariffs “are hurting his own citizens. American jobs are on the line because of his actions.”
Trump, meanwhile, is going in with all guns blazing. According to CNN, he was considering not showing up at all, until advisors pointed out that “canceling the visit entirely would appear like he’s shrinking from a fight he proudly began.”
The American president has however decided to leave the summit early, skipping the sessions on climate change and the environment.