Canada responded to Trump’s announcement with retaliatory tariffs, taking “the strongest action Canada has taken in the post-war era,” according to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
G7 finance ministers expressed their collective “concern and disappointment,” urging the U.S. to abandon the tariffs ahead of the leaders’ summit next week in Quebec.
“The international community is faced with significant economic and security issues, which are best addressed through a united front from G7 countries,” ministers said in a joint summary issued Saturday by Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, following a three-day meeting in Whistler, Canada.
Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance and economy minister, was blunt in his assessment of the meeting, where ministers confronted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“It has been a tense and tough G7 — I would say it’s been far more a G6 plus one than a G7,” said Le Maire, who called the tariffs unjustified.
Before the White House’s threats this week, Chinese-U.S. trade tensions had appeared to ease after China promised on May 19 to “significantly increase” purchases of farm goods, energy and other products and services following the last round of talks in Washington.
Mnuchin had said the dispute was “on hold” and the tariff hike would be postponed. But that truce appeared to end with Tuesday’s surprise announcement.
Elsewhere, Defense Secretary James Mattis rebuked China Saturday for its placement of weapon systems on manmade islands in the South China Sea.
Mattis, who was speaking at an international security forum in Singapore and who is due to visit Beijing this month, said: “China’s policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness that our strategy promotes, it calls into question China’s broader goals.”
He Lei, the head of the Chinese delegation to the dialogue, said the islands were Chinese territory and it was “a sovereign and legal right for China to place our army and military weapons there.”