BIARRITZ, France — President Donald Trump arrived Saturday in Biarritz, France for an international economic summit with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.
The leaders face a list of challenges. There is the potential for a global slowdown, tension with allies on trade, and questions about Iran and Russia.
Other topics on the agenda will be the clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong; Iran’s renewed nuclear enrichment and interference with shipping in the Strait of Hormuz; and the Islamic State prisoners currently imprisoned by American-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.
A potential financial downturn suggests the need for cooperation and a collective response. Trump has criticized Germany for its economic policies at a time when he may look for support to face China’s new tariff increase on U.S. goods.
Before he left Washington, Trump said that U.S. businesses with dealings in China are ordered to begin moving out of China. There was no immediate explanation of just what he expected or what authority he had to make it happen, but it likely was for Chinese consumption. He also imposed higher tariffs on Chinese imports.
Earlier, he had made light of a sharp drop in the financial markets in reaction to his latest trade actions, suggesting it had overreacted. His tongue-in-cheek tweet speculated that the Dow’s plunge could be tied to the departure of a lower-tier candidate in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In recent days, the national press and pundits have tried to interpret mixed signals. At one point, he moved to simmer the trade conflict with China in order to ease the impact on American consumers during the holiday shopping season. Then he suggested future tax cuts to stimulate the economy that he currently says is strong.
Trump arranged a late change to the summit agenda, requesting a working session on global economic issues.
The annual G-7 summit has historically been used to highlight common ground among the world’s leading democracies. But in a bid to sidestep Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron has eschewed plans for a formal joint statement from this gathering.
Addressing the global slowdown isn’t the only pressing challenge that Trump has discovered requires joint action.
For more than a year, his administration has struggled with persuading European leaders to repatriate captured fighters from the Islamic State group. So far they have declined.
Trump, White House aides said, was looking forward to meeting with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson , the pro-Brexit leader whose election he’d backed. Trump has scheduled individual meetings with several of his counterparts, including Macron, Trudeau, Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While on French soil, Trump also intends to raise with Macron and the other leaders the issue of a digital services tax that France has imposed on major technology companies such as Google and Facebook despite Trump’s threats of retaliatory tariffs on French wine.
The Trump administration says the tax targets and discriminates against U.S. businesses. The European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, has promised European Union action if the U.S. follows through.