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“On trade, no less than on alliances, ‘America First’ does not mean America alone,” Cohn emphasized.
But Germany is bracing for the possibility of a “contentious time” with the U.S. on trade, said David-Wilp of the German Marshall Fund, specifically on the possibility of steel tariffs. Trump and Merkel discussed relations between the two countries over the weekend ahead of the summit, according to the White House.
Post-Paris climate agreement
When Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord last month, his supporters hailed it as a victory while allies hung their heads.
But just because the president has called it a bad deal for the United States, doesn’t mean he isn’t open to doing some kind of agreement on climate, advisers said.
“He cares very much about the climate and environment, but he has to enter into a deal that’s fair for the American worker,” Cohn said, adding that the president is “open to reengaging on this or new deal if it makes sense for the American people.”
In a speech prior to the G20, Merkel said she would wage the climate change battle with or without the United States. “We cannot wait until every last person on earth has been convinced of the scientific proof,” she said in remarks to parliament.
White House advisers have been
unable to articulate whether the president believes in climate change, which he has previously expressed skepticism about.
“The Paris agreement is irreversible and non-negotiable,” Merkel said, promising “to carry out the negotiations at the G20 Summit so that they can serve the Paris climate agreement.”
Kupchan said Merkel may be “more inclined to look to Beijing than Washington for help” on the issue.
But Daniel Twining, head of the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Asia Program, urged America’s European allies to “avoid falling into the trap of pivoting away from America for tactical reasons related to the current occupant of the White House and pivoting towards China in a way that really undercuts Europe’s most basic values and interests.”