Thursday, September 23, 2021

Macron warns against isolationism, trade wars in speech to US Congress

Washington, Apr 25 (EFE).- France’s president warned against isolationism and nationalism in an address here Wednesday to a joint session of the United States Congress, where he also urged the American government to refrain from starting a trade war with the European Union and to combat climate change.

A day after a cordial meeting with US President Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron hammered away at several key points of his counterpart’s agenda, particularly taking aim at positions that have sparked tensions with the EU.

The French president also called for “strong multilateralism” to avert a potential decline in institutions such as the United Nations and NATO.

“Closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world,” Macron said. “I do not share the fascination for new strong powers, the abandonment of freedom and the illusion of nationalism.”

He instead called for building a “new breed of multilateralism” that preserves the international order established after World War II.

“This requires more than ever the United States’ involvement, as your role was decisive for creating and safeguarding this free world. The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism. You are the one who has to help now to preserve and reinvent it,” Macron said.

“If we do not act with urgency as a global community, I am convinced that the international institutions, including the United Nations and NATO, will no longer be able to exist.”

Macron’s speech contrasted sharply with Trump’s “America First” agenda, including his plans to bring back manufacturing jobs to the US through actions such as imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

In his meeting on Tuesday with Trump, Macron urged the US president to permanently exempt European Union nations from a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

The EU – along with Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea – in March was given a temporary exemption from those tariffs, which Trump had announced earlier that month. But that temporary exemption is set to expire on May 1.
Mexico and Canada have been exempted from the tariffs.

Macron also delivered a rebuke of Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris climate accord and predicted that Washington would eventually rejoin it.

“We must find a smoother transition to a lower carbon economy,” he said. “Because what is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet while sacrificing the future of our children?”

During his address, Macron also called on the US not to abandon the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and several world powers.

Macron said Tuesday that he was ready to work on a “new deal” with the Persian nation that would broaden the scope of the 2015 nuclear pact.

Trump, for his part, said that same day that he was open to that possibility but did not rule out withdrawing from the original agreement.