US isolated as G7 ministerial draws to a close


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that months of intense negotiations between his country, the United States and Mexico had imploded when Vice President Mike Pence demanded that any NAFTA deal expire automatically in five years.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday dubbed trade tariffs imposed by the United States as insulting and unacceptable.

OTTAWA-Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland joined the European Union on Friday to challenge US tariffs on steel and aluminum shipments with the World Trade Organization, and filed a separate challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement arguing America is offside with global trading rules. As the meeting was wrapping up, he tweeted, "When you're nearly 800 Billion Dollars a year down on Trade, you can't lose a Trade War!"

Ahead of the G7 leaders summit next week, finance ministers from six of the G7 countries have condemned the decision by the Trump administration to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The dispute over US President Donald Trump's new levies on steel and aluminum imports is driving a wedge in the G7 group of industrial nations.

The Financial Post led with the fact that the other six members - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom - had issued a statement critical of recent USA actions.

The Canadian lumber industry is coping with heavy US duties on softwood, and the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement has proven fruitless.

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warn the United States has only a few days to avoid sparking a trade war with its allies and it is up to the United States to make a move to defuse tensions over tariffs. "They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers!" he wrote.

"If we charge a country ZERO to sell their goods, and they charge us 25, 50 or even 100 percent to sell ours, it is UNFAIR and can no longer be tolerated", he said.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, whose country's steel and aluminum producers have been paying the USA tariffs since March 23, labelled the USA decision as "deeply deplorable", saying it was the "US against everyone else".

President Trump's strict stance on trade could put 2.6 million American jobs at risk, the head of the Chamber of Commerce says.

The European Union and Canada have filed challenges with the World Trade Organisation. They charge five times what we charge for tariffs. And look, the American worker agrees with me. But a trip already fell apart when Trudeau was informed by Vice-President Mike Pence in a phone call that the United States would mandate a "sunset" clause of five years in the new trade agreement.

Mr. Trump has pushed relations between Canada and its largest trading partner to their tensest point in recent memory: American tariffs on steel and aluminum have sparked a trade war over more than $30-billion worth of goods.

Prime Minister Trudeau says he will work with companies hit hard by what he calls "ridiculous" tariffs.