Faced with the fears of a recession and a festering trade war with China, US President Donald Trump could shore up the transatlantic alliance to “take China on" over its alleged “unfair practices" at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, on Saturday, said analysts.
Leaders from the group of seven industrialized countries—the US, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Canada, and Italy—will gather in Biarritz for their 45th annual meeting amid worsening fears of recession, trade frictions, and climate change.
Notwithstanding the sharp differences between the US on the one side, and France and Germany on the other, on a range of trade and climate-related issues, there will be a strong push towards adopting a common position against China.
Despite launching a section 301 investigation of France’s digital services tax on 19 August, the US wants to rebuild its traditional alliance with the members of the European Union (EU) and Japan for waging a common fight against China’s unfair practices, such as alleged theft of intellectual property, forced transfer of technologies, and subsidies provided to state-owned enterprises.
The three members had already launched the trilateral process at the level of trade ministers to address China’s “non-market-oriented policies and practices", and had adopted common positions on new disciplines on industrial subsidies, as well as punitive measures against countries for not complying with enhanced transparency and notification requirements at the World Trade Organization.
However, Trump’s constant threat of imposing retaliatory tariffs on European cars and other products for not providing reciprocal market access to American farm products has stymied the progress in the trilateral initiatives, said a Geneva-based trade diplomat, who asked not to be identified.
The US has threatened to impose unilateral tariffs on French wines and cheese products in response to the 3% digital services tax to be levied by France on annual revenues generated by US tech giants, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft.
Against this backdrop, it remains to be seen how the EU leaders will respond to the overtures of the US at the G7 meeting, as many of them have strong commercial and investment presence in China, the diplomat said.
The US president, who seems somewhat worried over fears of a recession and volatility in financial markets because of tit-for-tat tariffs imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars of imports between the US and China, has claimed that he will take on China even if it causes some short-term economic pain in the US, including a recession.