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U.S. Goals Spur Charlevoix Summit Success

John Kirton, G7 Research Group
June 7, 2018

In the lead-up to the G7's Charlevoix Summit on June 8-9, 2018, many thought that the chances for its success had been destroyed by the divisions created by U.S. president Donald Trump's unilateral imposition on May 31 of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from his partners at the event. Yet when his priorities for the summit were finally produced on the afternoon of June 6th, these fears were largely laid to rest.

Briefing reporters at the White House, US national economic advisor Larry Kudlow identified Trump's four priorities as economic growth, trade, bilateral meetings with Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, and shared security in the context of Trump's forthcoming Singapore Summit with North Korea on June 12. The very production of the list confirmed, despite prevailing doubts, that Trump would indeed come to the summit, that he had started to focus seriously on the event, and that he had selected substantive goals that substantially supported the five priorities that Justin Trudeau had chosen to make the summit an overall success.

Trudeau's first priority of inclusive economic growth was directly reinforced by Trump's first choice of economic growth. Although the U.S. emphasis was entirely on growth rather than "inclusiveness," it was presented in terms that heralded the success of Trump's policies in giving all his citizens jobs, confidence and the opportunity to start their own businesses should they want. It was growth that was already working for everyone. As Kudlow stressed that the current economic growth of about 3% would grow in the coming years, he implied that Trudeau's second summit priority — preparing for the jobs of the future — was an important American goal already being achieved in the United States. Kudlow said directly that Trump wanted to share U.S. success with his G7 partners and would tell them how to do so, by adopting the policies Trump had pioneered at home and that were now proving their worth.

The fourth U.S. goal of shared security in the context of the forthcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit similarly supported Trudeau's fifth summit priority of strengthening peace and security. With the G7 summit ending two days before the bilateral Singapore summit started, the focus of the leaders and media would shift quickly from the old news of the metals tariffs to the new, historic first U.S.-North Korean summit. Thus internal G7 divisions over metals tariffs would be replaced by the members' unity on North Korea, where all wanted its complete, irreversible and verified denuclearization and for "maximum pressure" to be kept on it until this came — although at a press conference on June 7 Trump said he did not want to use the term. Trump would thus go as the G7 champion and leader to Singapore to get this done. This shared priority, even more than economic growth, presented Trump in his preferred role as a winner, and one who was leading the G7 and the world. More broadly Kudlow said the president's priority was "shared" security. Gone was the "national" security that Trump has earlier emphasized as the rationale for the metals tariffs he had imposed.

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