Leaders of G7 start three-day summit in France today

US, China trade war escalation, Amazon fires could change the agenda

France will deploy in the resort more than 13,000 police officers, backed by soldiers, to keep protesters away from the summit venue.

Leaders of the G7 nations arrive in France on Saturday for a three-day summit which will take place in the Atlantic seaside resort of Biarritz amid sharp differences over a clutch of global issues that risk further dividing a group of countries already struggling to pull together, news wires reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron wants the leaders of Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States to focus on the defense of democracy, gender equality, education and climate change, and has invited leaders from Asia, Africa and Latin America to join them for a global push on these issues. But with the trade war between China and the United States escalating, European governments struggling to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran and global condemnation growing over illegal fires in the Amazon, his agenda could be eclipsed, Reuters reported.

US President Donald Trump’s history of pugnacity at multilateral gatherings, which brought last year’s G7 summit to an acrimonious conclusion, means there is scant hope for substantive agreements. France has already decided that, to avoid another failure, there will be no final communique.

“French President Emmanuel Macron... bills the meeting as a chance to relaunch multilateralism, promote democracy and tame globalization to ensure it works for everyone,” Stewart Patrick of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote. “More likely, the gathering will expose the political, economic and ideological fault lines threatening Western solidarity and international cooperation.”

US officials said President Trump would tout his policies of tax cuts and deregulation and press allies to follow his example to stave off problems with the global economy. Hours before leaving for Biarritz, Trump reacted angrily to China’s move to impose retaliatory tariffs on more US goods, even saying he was ordering US companies to look at ways to close their operations in China. The president cannot legally compel US firms to abandon China immediately.

China’s President Xi Jinping is not among the Asian leaders invited to the Biarritz summit.

Adding to the unpredictable dynamic between the G7 leaders are the new realities facing Brexit-bound Britain: dwindling influence in Europe and growing dependency on the United States. PM Boris Johnson will want to strike a balance between not alienating Britain’s European allies and not irritating Trump and possibly jeopardizing future trade ties. Johnson and Trump will hold bilateral talks on Sunday morning. Even so, diplomats played down the likelihood of Trump and Johnson joining hands against the rest, citing Britain’s close foreign policy alignment with Europe on issues from Iran and trade to climate change. Johnson said ahead of the summit that Britain would not retreat from its responsibilities on the world stage after Brexit, nor sacrifice its belief in the global order.

Macron will host a dinner on the waterfront on Saturday before the leaders get down to talks on Sunday and Monday on the global economy, tackling inequality and climate change.

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