World leaders have gathered in Biarritz, France, along the Atlantic coast, to commence this year’s G-7 summit. President Trump arrived on Saturday, Aug. 24, along with First Lady Melania Trump. They were greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Group of Seven, which include heads of state from the United States, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, are meeting for three days to discuss a number of issues pressing the world community. These include, but are not limited to, global trade, in the shadow of tense trade negotiations between the United States and China; the effects of climate change; and the burning of Amazon rain forests in Brazil.
The U.S. president’s first-day schedule included having lunch with Macron, which was likely to include some discussion of President Trump’s recent threat to tax French wine imports in response to France’s taxing of American businesses.
President Trump has said he aims to make the topic of unfair trade practices front and center in all of his discussions. By contrast, European leaders are warning the president that his aggressive tariff policy against China may be leading the world toward an economic recession.
The escalating trade war between the United States and China
Just yesterday, President Trump announced that he would raise tariffs from 25% to 30% on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, effective Oct. 1. In addition, tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods, which were set to begin on Sept. 1, have been increased from 10% to 15%. Trump had previously announced that he would impose the additional tariffs on Chinese imports at the beginning of August, after a U.S. delegation returned from trade meetings in Shanghai without a resolution.
“For many years China (and many other countries) has been taking advantage of the United States on Trade, Intellectual Property Theft, and much more. Our Country has been losing HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year to China, with no end in sight …” the president posted via Twitter, on Friday.
Other world leaders at the G-7 summit are concerned that the escalated U.S.-China trade dispute is taking place at a time when world economic growth is already slowing. An additional headwind could push the economy closer toward a recession. The U.S. tariffs, for example, had already begun to have a measurable effect on global shipping by July.
China also announced it would impose new tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. exports, on Friday, in a clear retaliation to President Trump’s announced tariffs. The combination of both sides raising the stakes in their dispute, stirred market volatility, and the U.S. stock market fell by 2%, on Friday.
Fires rage in the Amazon rain forest
Macron is calling on world leaders to aid Brazil and surrounding countries in fighting fires that are burning entire swaths of the Amazon rain forests and could exacerbate climate problems. Many of the fires are believed to have been ignited intentionally in order to clear land for agricultural and commercial development.
Thousands of environmental protesters held a march near the G7 summit’s meeting grounds, on Saturday, demanding a global response to the crisis. Macron has advocated for countries to work together to start a large-scale replanting program, and has advocated for economic sanctions to be put in place against countries that allow such large-scale burning.