BIARRITZ, France — President Donald Trump arrived in France on Saturday morning after an overnight flight from Washington. His arrival was preceded by more tit-for-tat tariff action that economists — and most of the other Group of 7 heads — believe is contributing to a global economic slump.
His first stop was a sunny patio for lunch across from his host, French President Emmanuel Macron. “So far, so good,” Trump said. “The weather is fantastic. Everybody’s getting along. I think we will accomplish a lot this weekend.”
Later, Trump is due to attend a dinner for the leaders Saturday evening at the base of a tall white lighthouse planted atop a rocky cliff overlooking elegant Biarritz, the venue for this year’s summit. Formal talks begin Sunday morning.
World leaders have plenty to discuss. Festering foreign policy matters like Iran and fresh tensions between India and Pakistan are on the table. The summit’s host, French President Emmanuel Macron, says he also wants to address raging wildfires in the Amazon rainforest.
Heading into the summit, however, the flagging global economy appeared the most pressing matter. Trump insisted on a special Sunday morning session to discuss it. Other leaders blame his use of tariffs — on friends and foe alike — for weighing down growth, causing manufacturing to contract and throwing equity markets into turmoil.
Trump has made his disdain for the G7 summit clear, leaving the past two years’ G7s in a backwash of acrimony. In conversations with aides over the past weeks, he has questioned why he must attend this year, believing it a particularly unproductive use of his time, according to people familiar with the conversations.
The G7 represents the world’s major economies, and has long been a regular stop on the US President’s calendar. The membership includes the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom. In small group sessions, with only the leaders and few aides present, the world’s major economic and geopolitical problems are discussed at length.
Before he departed, Trump insisted he was looking forward to meeting with friends — though acknowledged he wasn’t exactly on chummy terms with every one of the leaders he’ll encounter this weekend.
“I think it will be very productive seeing the leaders, who are friends of mine for the most part,” he said on a darkened South Lawn as he was leaving the White House. “I wouldn’t say 100% of the cases, but for the most part.”
Before leaving Washington, Trump announced an increase in tariffs on Chinese imports in retaliation for new Chinese duties.
“I think we are doing very well. Our economy is doing great,” he said. “We are having a little spat with China and we’ll win it.”
After past summits, Trump was irked at lengthy discussions about the environment and oceans, people familiar with his reaction said, and felt he wasn’t given enough room to tout his achievements as president.
And French organizers have set low expectations for a concluding show of unity. Macron has said the notion of producing a joint communiqué at the end is “pointless.”
Trump, meanwhile, is preparing more intently for the several individual meetings he’s scheduled with other leaders — including a new ally, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is busy preparing for the UK’s exit from the European Union. Trump is also due to meet one-on-one with the leaders of the other G7 nations.