Seven of the world’s most powerful leaders are scheduled to gather this weekend in Canada for the annual G7 summit. Officially called the “Group of Seven,” the G7 summit is the gathering of some of the world’s most industrialized nations: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. Topics discussed at the summit this year include job growth, climate change, gender equality and building a more peaceful world.
“This vibrant region captures everything that our country is about — from bilingualism, to cultural diversity, to stunning scenery in every season,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “I look forward to welcoming my counterparts this year in beautiful Charlevoix. I’m sure they will fall in love with the region, just as Canadians have done for generations.”
For the last several decades, the group was referred to as the G8, when Russia was still included in the summit. However, Russia was suspended from the group in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea, according to Fox News.
Here’s what you need to know about the seven countries currently involved in the G7 summit:
1. The United States of America
The United States is coming to the G7 summit with a plethora of controversial decisions President Trump has made over the last few weeks, months and years. Trump will now have to face off with six other world leaders on decisions regarding trade tariffs, climate change and the Iranian nuclear deal.
According to the Independent, there are “unanimous concerns” about the tariffs on steel and aluminium that Washington will impose on several allies, among them Canada, Mexico and the EU.
“All the other G7 countries are urging the US treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, to consider the impact on the global economy – and instead of working together to deal effectively with China, G7 countries are preparing retaliatory measures against the US,” the Independent states.
Aside from having to face America’s allies in decisions that have made each of the six G7 allies unhappy, Trump also triggered discussions about his comments regarding why Russia was no longer apart of the summit.
“It doesn’t matter what you call it. It used to be G8; now Russia is out,” Trump told reporters. “Why are we having a meeting without Russia? Would recommend Russia should be a part of it.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced five themes for Canada’s G7 presidency which began in January 2018. Under the “Working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy” theme, Canada is hosting “domestic and international discussions to advance priorities specifically focusing on oceans,” according to Wikipedia. The discussions will bring together experts to discuss challenges and opportunities both domestically and internationally, to move toward zero plastic waste and mitigating marine plastic litter, including microplastics.
However, tensions will be high at the summit, as President Trump recently added stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on five of the G7 partners. The administration also recently kicked off a trade investigation that could trigger additional tariffs on imported cars, causing some controversy between Trump and Trudeau.
According to CNN sources, Trudeau pressed Trump on how he could justify the tariffs as a “national security” issue, in which Trump responded, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” referring to the War of 1812.
3. The United Kingdom
The country’s official name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It comprises four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition to English, there are other official languages, including Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and Cornish, according to the G7 summit website. Prime Minister Theresa May will be attending the summit as the United Kingdom’s representative.
According to the Independent, the UK has a chance to “make friends and influence people,” at the G7 summit. With the Brexit deadline right around the corner, London’s needs include negotiating mutually beneficial trade deals with all of the nations involved with the summit.
“The Canadians are extremely worried about the US’s protectionist tariff changes. If the UK sides with its historic partner in Washington it will put itself in the firing line. Conversely, should the British government align itself with the other G7 nations, it will surely only antagonize Trump – who is set to visit Britain in July,” according to the Independent.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that she expected “contentious discussions” at the G7 summit this week, given differences with US President Donald Trump on trade, climate and security, according to The Local.
“I think everyone knows there will be difficult discussions there, because G7 summits deal with the global economy, trade, climate protection, development- and foreign policy,” she told the German parliament, according to the Local.
With increasing differences between the United States and many of its allies, Merkel argued that the meeting should not attempt to “hammer out a joint communique,” that would “water down” previous joint commitments.
Merkel claimed that she would be attending the summit “in good faith” but stressed that there must be “no compromise for its own sake” and that a final statement by the host Canada, rather than a joint communique, “may be the more honest way,” to keep the summit in good faith, the Local reports.
It was unclear if Italy would have a “sure-footed government in place during this year’s string of important international summits,” according to the Independent. The Independent reports that Italy’s new coalition government may be attempting to discuss its foreign policy to the other world leaders at the summit.
Italy’s new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte allegedly backed Trump’s call for Russia to be included once more into Group of Seven meetings, according to Reuters.
“I agree with President (Trump). Russia should be re-admitted into the G8. It is in the interests of everyone,” Conte said in a tweet from Canada where he is due to make his international debut as Italian leader at a summit of world power leaders.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has invested in a friendly, personal relationship with Trump, said the other G7 nations should remain “polite” and productive, according to the UK Express.
But he also warned that “no leader is forever,” in a clear sign that Europe has no intentions of “surrendering to the US president,” the UK Express reports.
According to the Independent, top priorities for Macron include trade and security. “Macron sees Trump’s protectionist trade policy not just as a threat to French economic interests, but also as a challenge to established security alliances,” the Independent stated.
Trump has also criticized France, as well as other European countries, on their low defense spending regarding Nato’s requirements, so Macron could potentially be addressing the Nato agreement while attending the summit.
The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has been under fire recently for a string of scandals in his home county which have caused his approval ratings to take a hit.
With Trump’s upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the Independent reports that Abe has been stressing for Trump to discuss North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens when he meets Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
“The challenge for Abe is to maintain a hard line against Pyongyang without undermining Japan’s most important partner and to make sure his government doesn’t become isolated in an East Asian community that is increasingly leaning towards engagement with the North Koreans,” reports the Independent.
Abe will allegedly also be attempting to sort out the issue with tariffs while attending the summit.