The annual summit of the G-7 nations is upon us.
For two days starting Friday, June 8, leaders from the Group of Seven - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States - will gather in Charlevoix, Quebec, for a meeting of the minds set to shine a bright light on many contemporary issues that span more than just Wall Street or Main Street, but rather the whole world.
In a geopolitical landscape that has weighed on markets and economies, here are the three major talking points investors should expect from the two-day G-7 Summit.
Trade and Tariffs
This summit could be the big opportunity for global leaders to force President Donald Trump to face the music in person on his controversial tariffs. Last week, Trump extended 25% tariffs on aluminum and 10% tariffs on steel to other countries beyond just China, including Canada, the EU and Mexico. The move ignited global dissent and likely earned Trump a spot on the receiving end of public criticism during the summit.
Finance ministers and central bank governors from G-7 countries issued a statement late last week that stated the following: "Concerns were expressed that the tariffs imposed by the United States on its friends and allies, on the grounds of national security, undermine open trade and confidence in the global economy. Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors requested the United States Secretary of the Treasury communicate their unanimous concern and disappointment."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the steep tariffs "insulting" and "totally unacceptable." Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been labeled an ally of Trump's administration, said the tariff decision "is not only illegal, it is a mistake on many points." U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called the tariffs "unjustified and deeply disappointing," too. Suffice to say Trump's trade allies will be numbered in Charlevoix this week.
In addition to the metals tariffs, the U.S., Canada and Mexico are in the throes of Nafta negotiations that have dragged on for months. A Canadian official who briefed reporters this week ahead of the summit said economic talks in Charlevoix "will quickly go to a discussion on trade."
A European Union official told Reuters that G-7 leaders will tell North Korea that it must get rid of its nuclear weapons arsenal if the country wants to see sanctions against it lifted.
"We expect a strong and united G-7 message to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to deliver a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula if the current sanctions pressure is to be gradually lifted," the unnamed official said.
The G-7 meeting will come just days before Trump is expected to hold a groundbreaking summit with North Korean President Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. Fellow G-7 leaders have previously expressed concerns that Trump could go into the summit with Kim without much of a plan, favoring instead his strategy of winging it.
Following the ire the Trump administration has drawn in upending carefully calculated security efforts with the U.S. departure from the Iran nuclear deal, global leaders could aim to steer the North Korea conversation this week ahead of the big event. Most of the G-7 member nations have strongly prioritized global security in recent summits, and this one will be no different - in fact, the stakes may be higher.
Among the five key themes of Canada's G-7 presidency this year is "building a more peaceful and secure world." In the wake of widespread political turmoil throughout member nations, that task could prove difficult.
This week's summit will follow recent threats of Italy quitting the eurozone. While the crisis appears to be averted for now under a newly installed coalition government, the wounds are still fresh and fellow bloc members could look to air grievances with Italy's representatives in Charlevoix.
At the same time, the future of Brexit remains uncertain and will undoubtedly remain a topic of discussion at this summit, as it has been for the past two years. The International Monetary Fund earlier this year downgraded its 2019 economic growth forecast for the U.K., while simultaneously increasing growth expectations for many of the other G-7 nations. With another of Canada's key themes being "investing in growth that works for everyone," the economic implications of Brexit could be center stage.
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