Trump makes stunning reversal, says there should be 'no tariffs, no barriers' at G7 summit weeks after imposing huge tariffs on US allies

  • President Donald Trump suggested to the G7 leaders that the world should eliminate all tariffs, trade barriers, and subsides in order to promote free trade.
  • The idea comes weeks after Trump imposed huge tariffs of steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico.
  • The suggestion took the G7 leaders aback, reports said.
  • While Trump seemed to reverse course, the president also kept up his complaints about trade deficits.

President Donald Trump suggested a radical change to the international trading system in an apparent reversal of his recent tariff policy.

During a press conference at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, Trump said that he suggested that all tariffs, trade barriers, and industrial subsidies should be dropped in order to facilitate free trade.

"No tariffs, no barriers, that's the way it should be," Trump said. "And no subsides, I even said not tariffs."

The statement comes just a few weeks after Trump decided to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico and a few months after Trump hit the rest of the world with the same tariffs.

20 PHOTOS
G-7 Summit in Quebec, Canada
See Gallery
G-7 Summit in Quebec, Canada
QUEBEC, CANADA - JUNE 08: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'THIERRY QUENETTE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) (L-R) The President of the European Council Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker pose for a family photo during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada 08 June 2018. (Photo by Handout / Thierry Quenette/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and G7 leaders Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss the joint statement following a breakfast meeting on the second day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and G7 leaders Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss the joint statement following a breakfast meeting on the second day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
QUEBEC, CANADA - JUNE 08: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'ERIC BOLTE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau (R) greets Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada 08 June 2018. (Photo by Handout / Eric Bolte/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and G7 leaders France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump take part in a working session on the first day of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. Picture taken June 8, 2018. Adam Scotti/Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (not shown) during the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix town of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pose during a family photo at the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada?s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with France's President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton watches as President Donald Trump meets with France's President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Donald Trump sits side by side with France's President Emmanuel Macron during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
QUEBEC, CANADA - JUNE 08: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'ERIC BOLTE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) (L-R) British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walk for the family portrait during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada 08 June 2018. (Photo by Handout / Eric Bolte/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
QUEBEC, CANADA - JUNE 08: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'ERIC BOLTE / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) (L-R) The President of the European Council Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker pose for a family photo during the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada 08 June 2018. (Photo by Handout / Eric Bolte/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses a press conference at the conclusion of the G7 Summit on June 9, 2018 in La Malbaie, Canada. - The leaders of the G7 failed to heal a tariff dispute that has pushed them to the brink of trade war, as Donald Trump quit their summit early and warned Canada, Japan and Europe that 'the gig is up.' (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
LA MALBAIE , QC - JUNE 09: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May holds a press conference at the end of the second day of the G7 Summit on June 9, 2018 in La Malbaie, Canada. Canada hosted the leaders of the UK, Italy, the US, France, Germany and Japan for the two day summit, in the town of La Malbaie. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves following the final press conference at the conclusion of the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, June 9, 2018. - Trudeau confirmed he had warned Donald Trump his country would impose retaliatory tariffs on US goods from July 1, denouncing Trump's decision to invoke national security concerns to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel as 'insulting' to the Canadian war veterans who had fought alongside US allies. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP) (Photo credit should read LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch a G7 protest from the window of a restaurant in the old sector of Quebec City, Quebec, on June 9, 2018. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
Police gather in the old sector of Quebec City, June 9, 2018 where anti G7 protests are planned later in the day. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
Riot police walk in formation during a protest march at the G7 Summit in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) participates in a roundtable discussion with Small Island Developing States at the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix town of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

According to multiple reports, Trump brought up the idea of totally free trade during a meeting with the other G7 leaders which include the heads of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and representative for the EU.

"Ultimately that's what you want, you want tariff free, no barriers, and you want no subsides because you have some countries subsidizing industries and that's not fair," Trump said. "So you go tariff free, you go barrier free, you go subsidy free, that's the way you learned at the Wharton School of Finance."

According to reports, the other leaders were taken aback by the suggestions and not sure how serious Trump was about it. The president alluded to the surprise during the press conference.

"People were ... I guess they gotta go back to drawing board and check it out," Trump said.

Larry Kudlow, the president's top economic adviser and a staunch advocate of free trade, said the suggestion of no tariffs led to productive discussions with the other world leaders.

"I don't know if they were surprised with President Trump's free trade proclamation, but they certainly listened to it and we had lengthy discussions about that," Kudlow said at the press conference. "As the president said, reduce these barriers, in fact go to zero, zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, zero subsidies, and along the way we're going to have to clean up the international trading system."

But Trump did not totally change course, adding that the current tariffs were necessary as a reciprocal action in response to various barriers erected by other nations.

"We can't have an example where we're paying, the United States is paying, 270% — just can't have it — and when they send things into us you don't have that," Trump said at the press conference.

During the meeting with leaders Trump also aired grievances about trade, using charts to discuss the US's trade deficit with various G7 members. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel strongly pushed back on these attacks, per reports.

NOW WATCH: Why some countries are more corrupt than others

See Also:

SEE ALSO: The European Union is slapping tariffs on over $7 billion of US goods — here are the states that stand to lose the most

Read Full Story