Merkel mobilising G20 allies to isolate US on trade and climate
Angela Merkel is greeted by President Macri of Argentina in Buenos Aires. There is nervousness in -Berlin that President Trump will see her South American tour as an affront Angela Merkel is ready to reinforce her image as the leader of a global anti-Trump alliance today with talks on free trade, climate protection and migration with the leaders of Argentina and Mexico.
The German chancellor was due to arrive in Buenos Aires last night before heading to Mexico City later today to prepare for the G20 summit that she is hosting next month and its strong antiprotectionist, green agenda.
Her G20 priorities and constant warnings against isolationism are being seen as a challenge to President Trump’s America First agenda. The stage is being set for a repeat of last month’s divisive G7 in Italy after which Mr Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord.
Mrs Merkel tried hard to convince Mr Trump to stick with the climate agreement and made headlines around the world by declaring after his withdrawal that Europe could no longer “completely depend” on the US and Britain and should take its fate into its own hands.
German officials briefed yesterday that Mrs Merkel was not seeking to build an anti-Trump coalition but fulfilling a long-standing commitment to visit two South American G20 members to plan for her summit.
There is intense nervousness in Berlin that the four-day South American tour will be taken by the US president as a provocation and lead to action on his threats of a trade war with Germany.
Despite her advisers’ protestations Mrs Merkel is reported to have a “19-1 strategy” for the two-day G20 summit in Hamburg and to be preparing for a bold declaration on free trade, which Mr Trump is unlikely to sign. Der Spiegel magazine said that the division could be 18-2 if Mr Trump was backed by Saudi Arabia.
“Merkel’s aim is that of creating an alliance against Trump. If she can’t convince the US president her approach will be that of trying to isolate him,” Der Spiegel wrote this week.
Mrs Merkel was reluctant to make the rift with Mr Trump visible despite his comments and tweets calling Germany’s trade surplus with the US “very bad”, the magazine added. “In doing so, the German chancellor has become Trump’s adversary on the international stage,” it said.
Feelings are running high in Berlin at Mr Trump’s opposition to the traditional western consensus on security, trade and climate change.
At a Nato meeting in Brussels last month Mr Trump omitted to declare that the United States would come to the aid of another member if it was attacked.
A senior member of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party attacked the shorttermism of Mr Trump’s approach in a speech in the German capital yesterday.
“We need a new concept of security. The EU and its member states are responsible for 60 per cent of all developmental aid in the world,” Elmar Brok, an MEP who chaired the European parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told the Aspen Institute think tank.
“The EU is responsible for 60 to 70 per cent of disaster relief and further help for affected people in and around Syria — all of that is security policy as well,” he said.
“Trump will have to build a higher wall to Mexico if he prevents the fight against climate change because poverty will increase there. He does not seem to understand this connection.”