Donald Trump will face intense verbal arm-twisting from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other G7 leaders to stay in the Paris climate change accord and to be more open-minded about the benefits of free trade.
But given the U.S. President’s abrasive scolding of NATO leaders for not spending enough on defence, Mr. Trump isn’t likely to be in the mood for compromise with Mr. Trudeau and the leaders of France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Great Britain.
“Getting ready to engage G7 leaders on many issues including economic growth, terrorism and security,” Mr. Trump tweeted Friday, without mentioning climate change.
The President campaigned against the Paris emissions deal and liberalized trade, but the White House said he won’t make a decision on whether to exit the Paris emission deal until after he returns home.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Mr. Trudeau will push hard to convince the President that the Paris treaty – signed by Barack Obama – should not be abandoned.
“We believe climate change is one of the greatest threats facing Canadians and the world and it is a threat which is a global threat and which needs global solutions,” Ms. Freeland told reporters as the start of the two-day summit in the Sicilian seaside town of Taormina.
On Thursday night, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn signalled where the President is leaning on the Paris treaty.
“We know that the levels that were agreed to by the prior administration would be highly crippling to the U.S. economic growth,” Mr. Cohn told reporters.
Prime Minister Trudeau told reporters on Thursday that the effort to keep Mr. Trump on board will focus on convincing him that millions of jobs could be created from clean energy in the United States.
“Indeed that is something we see in the United States at the state level, various governors are moving forward with very aggressive climate action plans. Municipalities are leading the way,” he said. “The private sector has recognized how important it is to investing in renewables, how many good jobs there are to create through innovation around clean technology.”
This is the first time Mr. Trump has sat at the G7 table, known for its collaborative to solving major world problems.
“There is no doubt that this will be the most challenging G7 summit in years,” European Union President Donald Tusk told a news conference. “It is no secret that the leaders meeting [Friday] sometimes have different positions on topics such as climate change and trade.”
Mr. Trudeau and the other leaders are concerned that the U.S. president might promote a protectionist agenda.
“What the president means by free and open trade is, we will treat you the way you treat us, meaning if you don’t have barriers to trade or you don’t have tariffs, we won’t have tariffs,” Mr. Cohn said.
Mr. Trump wants a firm commitment to fair trade in the final communique but the G7 nations want him to support a trade system in which World Trade Organization rules are honoured “Canada believes very strongly in a rules-based trading order. We are a trading nation and we are also going to stand up for that,” Ms. Freeland said.
Mr. Trudeau will meet the President Saturday for what officials called a “pull aside” where he is expected to discuss U.S. plans to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement.
President Trump is also expected to push back against a proposal by Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni for the G7 to help shoulder the burden of African refugees flooding to the shores of Sicily.
The White House budget includes big cuts to America’s foreign aid and Mr. Trump has shown no inclination to take in more refugees. At the NATO summit, he blamed migrants for the terrorist threat facing Europe.
The summit comes just days after the bloody bombing in Manchester, which killed 22 people. British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to urge the world leaders to do more to combat online radicalization.
The leaders will issue a separation communique on Saturday that will commit the G7 to fighting global terrorism, Ms. Freeland said.
A senior Canadian government official told reporters that the U.S. does not even have a designated top figure to work with the other countries on the final communique that will be released at the end of the summit on Saturday.
Given the lack of consensus, the official said it is probable that the final communique will be rather short compared to the 32-page one issued at last year’s summit in Japan.
Canada will play host to next year’s summit, which is expected to be held in Charlevoix, Que.