The latest Group of Seven summit became the scene of a fierce “six countries vs. the U.S.” conflict over trade.
The G7 summit has been a place where advanced countries sharing the same values, such as freedom and democracy, have been united by ironing out the differences. This is an abnormal situation where even the framework might collapse. We must take that situation seriously.
The latest G7 summit was held just a few days ahead of a planned summit between the U.S. and North Korea. It is obviously of great significance in that world leaders agreed to urge North Korea to completely denuclearize and confirmed their support for making the U.S.-North Korea a success.
On one hand, the G7 summit demonstrates the values of its cooperation. On the other hand, the U.S. is isolating itself. U.S. President Donald Trump should be aware that it sends a negative message.
The confrontation between the U.S. and six countries was fueled after Washington waged a trade war by imposing import restrictions on steel and other products from the six countries. The protectionism-oriented Trump was also isolated at last year’s G7 summit. But now that the U.S. has invoked concrete measures and affected countries are taking countermeasures against them. This situation is even more serious.
The U.S. is the country that has established the order of free trade but is now trying to destroy it. President Trump wouldn’t listen to the critical voices of world leaders. This is one of the reasons why the rift has deepened.
We cannot overlook what President Trump has said and done as if to make light of the G7. There is also a report that Trump was reluctant to attend the G7 summit. He also abruptly indicated his intention to invite Russia, on which the G7 has been stepping up economic sanctions, back into the G7.
On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not even mind signing a six-country agreement without the U.S. We wonder if the G7 can maintain its framework.
The Chair’s summary of the latest meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors called on world leaders to take “resolute action” to bring back cooperation among the G7. The current situation — a far cry from the call — should not be left unattended.
The framework of the Group of 20 countries and regions, which includes China, has its limits on effectively dealing with international issues as it is failing to share the common values. Meanwhile, the G7 has been extensively cooperating in economic, foreign policy, security, and other areas.
Europe, through the G7, is correctly aware of the North Korea threat, including the abduction issue, as a result of Japan’s efforts. The G7 is an invaluable framework for Japan, the only Asian member.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should not only try to cooperate [with the U.S.] to deal with the North Korea issues but also tenaciously work on the U.S. to prevent it from being isolated in trade issues.