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Europe’s Shaky Union Faces Trump’s G-7 Stress Test

Economy Aug 20, 2019 09:43AM ET
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© Reuters. Europe’s Shaky Union Faces Trump’s G-7 Stress Test

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Europe has a lot at stake ensuring the 2019 Group of Seven summit doesn’t end badly like last year’s gathering in Canada.

A refresher: President Donald Trump threatened to stop trading with everyone, bolted early from La Malbaie, Quebec, criticized the host and withheld U.S. support for the communique before eventually signing it. His trade adviser Peter Navarro said Canada’s prime minister deserved a “special place in hell.” A photo went viral of Trump, seated with arms crossed, looking up at German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders who all seemed to be saying, “Donald, you can’t be serious.”

This weekend’s talks are in Biarritz, a French seaside village popular with surfers. The stoke will probably dissipate when the high-stakes diplomacy rolls into town. Because on matters of trade, France, Germany and the U.K. have plenty riding on more unity than in 2018:

  • Europeans worry that Trump will turn his tariffs on them like he has on China. While trade isn’t on the G-7 agenda, it’s almost certain to be a pressure point.
  • The U.S. is completing a probe into a French tax on internet giants like Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) that could pave the way for retaliatory import taxes.
  • The EU is braced for the WTO give the U.S. the green light for levies on as much as $7 billion of EU goods after a ruling on illegal aircraft subsidies.
  • The U.S. wants more access to Europe’s agricultural markets — a red line for the French in any upcoming talks.
  • Trump is weighing whether to impose tariffs on auto imports, and a decision could come by mid-November. Doing so would spark retaliation from Brussels and pummel a German economy already on a brink of a recession.
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes his G-7 debut still committed to Britain’s exit from the EU on Oct. 31, without an agreement if necessary — a scenario economists say would harm Europe’s second-biggest economy amid disruptions in, among other things, cross-border commerce.
All this amounts to a big test for French President Emmanuel Macron as he tries to maintain G-7 peace at a time of trade stress and steady a global economy wobbling because of it.

Charting the Trade War

Looking at the big German automakers, China has already supplanted the U.S. as the largest foreign market for each, most recently for Mercedes-owner Daimler in 2017. 

Today’s Must Reads

  • Australia’s edge | Aussie ranchers have a chance to triple exports of grain-fed beef to China by 2030 to satisfy the nation’s growing appetite for the highly marbled meat.
  • Needing stimulus | Thailand’s Finance Ministry cut its economic growth and export forecasts as the U.S.-China trade war and baht strength take their toll.
  • Close to home | Home Depot became the latest U.S. company to cut revenue forecasts, citing a decline in lumber prices and concern that tariffs will hurt consumer demand.
  • Huawei delay | The U.S. will extend for another 90 days a narrow set of exemptions that shielded rural networks and other American customers from a ban on China’s Huawei. The company’s founder warned of a “live or die moment.”
  • Shipyard struggle | The decline of the city of Ulsan in South Korea tells the story of the seismic forces shaking the global shipbuilding industry.
Economic Analysis

  • China borrowing costs | Bloomberg Economics sees further room for the Loan Prime Rate to decline in the coming months, aided by other policy easing measures.
  • Amazon’s French pain | Complying with France’s new 3% digital revenue tax will cost (NASDAQ:AMZN) “millions,” according to a company official.
Coming Up

  • Aug. 21: South Korea 20-days exports, Thai exports
  • Aug. 24-26: G-7 leaders meet in France
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Europe’s Shaky Union Faces Trump’s G-7 Stress Test

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Comments (1)
nick bryson
nick bryson Aug 20, 2019 9:53AM ET
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bring on the recession. I'm up for a full blown depression. let's get the party started
Tom Saltzman
Tom Saltzman Aug 20, 2019 9:53AM ET
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Absolutely, We need complete destruction, we need sound money and We need open borders to replace American workers so we can compete with China.
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