President Trump will depart from this weekend’s Group of 7 Summit several hours early, The White House announced Thursday as the president traded blows on Twitter with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
An aide will take Trump’s place at a Saturday morning session on climate change, which was made a top priority by the summits’ Canadian host.
The announcement came as a bitter argument unfolded on Twitter over the merits of Trump’s complaints regarding what he views as predatory trade practices employed by the European Union and Canada. The spat was prompted by an uncharacteristically aggressive threat directed at Trump by Macron, who made it clear that summit negotiations can continue apace, absent U.S. involvement, given the degree of economic influence wielded by the remaining six countries.
The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force https://t.co/UA86fcjozs
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 7, 2018
Trump returned fire hours later, complaining about the existing trade imbalance between the European Union and the U.S.
Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
Trump resumed the unprecedented public posturing late Thursday night, once again accusing European Union and Canadian officials of victimizing American farmers and workers, and threatening to respond in kind.
Why isn’t the European Union and Canada informing the public that for years they have used massive Trade Tariffs and non-monetary Trade Barriers against the U.S. Totally unfair to our farmers, workers & companies. Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2018
The dispute comes after the Trump administration imposed significant steel and aluminum tariffs on a number U.S. allies last week, alienating the U.S. ahead of key trade negotiations. Both Canada and the European Union have challenged Trump’s national security justification for the tariffs in complaints filed with the World Trade Organization. Both countries have also announced retaliatory tariffs.
Trump was reportedly considering skipping the entire summit because he felt he would be outnumbered during negotiations but decided to attend after advisors convinced him his absence would be interpreted as weakness, according to CNN. He is scheduled to depart the summit and travel directly to Singapore for a historic meeting with Kim Jong-un.