Wide differences among the leaders of Group of Seven (G7) surfaced, as their three-day summit concluded yesterday in the French seaside resort of Biarritx, mostly due to differences on variety of issues between them. As a result, they failed to release a customary joint statement at the end of the meet, but only concluded with a one-page declaration to underline their “great unity” and the “positive spirit of the debates.”
“Such a short text implies that G7 members remain deeply divided,” said Hua Xin, executive director of Center for European Studies at Shanghai International Studies University. “We can guess the hot discussion these leaders had to formulate these paragraphs.”
Prior to the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron feared that a final joint communique with all G7 members would not be made.
Local wine dealers are “really worried” about possible U.S. tariffs on French wines, saying that they are relatively too small to pay for the burden. Such worries mirror the collective concerns about “America First” policy inside G7. During the summit, leaders tried hard to narrow their differences on such issues as trade and the Iran nuclear deal, but in the end a lack of a joint communique made trans-Atlantic rift hard to hide.
Before the summit, a U.S.-French detente on digital tax and a Japan-U.S. trade deal were highly expected. However, for Trump and other G7 leaders, divisions on trade are hard to hide.
Digital tax has become a thorny issue between Washington and Paris recently. Back in May, France’s upper house of the parliament gave greenlight to impose tax on internet giants. Trump threatened to add tariffs on French wines for retaliation.
Upon his arrival at Biarritz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters that he was “very concerned” about the trade conflict between the United States and China. “This is not the way to proceed. Apart from anything else, those who support the tariffs are at risk of incurring the blame for the downturn in the global economy,” he said. One day later, he publicly told Trump that Britain is “in favor of trade peace on the whole” instead of a trade war. On the Iran nuclear issue, disagreements among the G7 leaders had been crystal clear.