Discord in G-7 stokes fear and anger

Asia News Network commentators share their concerns about the disruptions to the existing global order that will jeopardise world trade prospects. Here are some excerpts:

Restore unity

Editorial The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan

The framework for the Group of Seven (G-7) advanced nations, a structure for supporting world prosperity and stability, faces a crisis. At the latest G-7 summit in Canada, the United States came under criticism from other member nations.

This was because the US had unilaterally imposed additional tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Japan, the European Union and Canada.

The EU and Canada started preparations to slap retaliatory tariffs on imports of US products.

The leaders' failure to make mutual concessions at the summit represents a serious situation.

The G-7 nations share values like democracy and market economies. They have fulfilled a certain role in facilitating growth and stabilising the global order through efforts to tackle global problems such as oil crises and financial unrest.

Divisions among the G-7 nations will incur large losses not only for the group but also for the whole world.

There is an increasing number of areas in which the G-7 members cannot act in concert. This change seems to have been caused by the advent of US President Donald Trump, who pursues an "America first" policy and makes light of multilateral frameworks.

It will be important for member states to recognise one another's differences and utilise new trade talks agreed upon between the US and European countries, as well as working-level talks at the World Trade Organisation.

It is regrettable that the summit also produced few achievements in other fields. China has continued its unfair practices, including violating intellectual property rights. Although the summit provided an excellent opportunity for the G-7 nations to urge China to improve the situation, they failed to carry out exhaustive discussions.

Russia's possible return to the G-7 was also discussed. If Russia rejoins the G-7 when the relationship among its countries remains fragile, it could only deepen the antagonism between them.

Huge divide on trade

Editorial China Daily, China

The huge divide between the US and its allies over issues such as trade meant the magnitude of discord at this year's G-7 summit was unprecedented.

The summit only renewed fears that there is a trade war brewing between the US and its trade partners, including its own allies.

Although differences between the seven leaders seemed to have been papered over in their joint statement, US President Donald Trump retracted his endorsement of the joint communique after the meeting.

It is Mr Trump's penchant for going his own way and belief that the US can get its own way in trade by leveraging its economic weight against its trade partners that have sown the seeds of the discord.

The imposition of tariffs on imports from other countries will not protect US workers, companies and farmers. Instead, it will lead to retaliation from other countries, and consequently increasingly higher trade barriers and less competition, and ultimately shrinking markets that will hit US businesses and jobs.

The G-7 summit has served as another reminder that it is the Trump administration that is challenging the international rules-based order. The international community should rally and reject the self-oriented closed-door policies of the US.

Widening fissures

Editorial The Statesman, India

What ought to have been a crucial summit on international trade had an ugly conclusion. Mr Donald Trump was at his acerbic worst - "We're like the piggy bank that everybody's robbing".

In terms of diplomatic courtesies, there were few.

On the effort to address the contentious issues, there was none.The US refused to sign the G-7 communique.

For all the visuals with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders, the US President has damaged the trans-Atlantic cohesion between Europe and America.

The long-term impact of this rift could be still more damaging.

The US remains the cornerstone of the post-World War II international order. If that cornerstone gets denuded, international relations in general run the risk of being threatened.

The fissures are growing and the rift has only widened in Quebec.

It is Mr Trump's disruptive diplomacy that must be countered.

Europe, Canada and Japan ought not to become vulnerable to Russian adventurism, China's authoritarianism and Mr Trump's reckless diplomacy.

At risk, therefore, is the West's liberal democracy, encompassing the values of peace, trade, liberty and the rule of law. The libertarian West must stand up to threats.

  • The View From Asia is a compilation of articles from The Straits Times' media partner, Asia News Network, a grouping of 23 news media.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2018, with the headline 'Discord in G-7 stokes fear and anger'. Print Edition | Subscribe