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G-20 nations align against increasingly isolated US

10 July 2017

While China is the central focus of the Trump administration's Section 232 investigations of steel and aluminum imports, other nations are interested in the investigations' results.

Whether a trade war in fact ensues, the world has been clear that it isn't behind Trump's protectionist trade policies and that they'll carry on as necessary on trade without US involvement.

For the United States, the singular focus on North Korea is not only naive and ineffectual, but also masks other consequential issues in the relationship that need to be addressed directly and candidly.

He warned however, that a broad USA claim to national security would put global trade on a slippery slope. China, the target of much anti-globalization rhetoric, is not such a major factor, at least not in steel.

Other countries have also stood in opposition to Trump's drive to erect trade barriers.

The summit was also the venue for the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is accused by US intelligence agencies of intervening in November's election to swing it in favor of the Republicans. "Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?" he wrote in a Wednesday morning Twitter post. The top import sources are Canada, Brazil and South Korea.

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Trump's administration is weighing whether to impose tariffs, quotas or a combination of both on steel imports under national security grounds through Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, even though only a fraction of USA steel is used for defense.

After the conclusion of the first day of meetings, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that Trump's interactions with foreign leaders were going well.

Mr. Trump's negotiators asked to include a line on the USA helping other countries "access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently", the European Union official said.

This time around, leaders signaled that steel is a sticking point.

- Prior to his departure for Europe, President Trump tweeted his disappointment with China for not doing enough to put pressure on North Korea about its nuclear program.

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2017Trade between China and North Korea grew nearly 40% in the first quarter.

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Germany, which holds the rotating G-20 presidency this year, led the "very difficult" negotiations to reaffirm 19 members' commitment to the Paris accord while accommodating Mr. Trump's stance on clean energy, officials said.

"The EU is a traditional and reliable steel supplier of the U.S., the EU member states concerned are North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners of the U.S. There is therefore no justification for targeting any steel supplies from the EU", Eurofer said. European leaders hope the meeting between Trump and Putin does not mean a weakening of the US position on the Ukraine question, more than three years after Russia's takeover of Crimea.

"This contraction could actually reduce the amount of US steel consumed by USA automakers, jeopardizing the very industry the remedy was meant to assist", the American Automotive Policy Council said in comments filed with the Commerce Department.

On climate, too, the United States - just a year ago a leading voice in favor of global action to reduce carbon emissions - is on its own path.

At summits such as the G-20, negotiators hammer out a final statement that is supposed to distill consensus and set policy directions for the many countries and organizations that have come together. The two leaders sat for a two-hour-and-sixteen-minute meeting, which started out with warm jokes between the pair but ended with a disagreement about whether Trump accepted Putin's denial that his country had interfered in the election.

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G-20 nations align against increasingly isolated US