European leaders at the G7 summit: EC president Donald Tusk, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Ludivic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

As G7 leaders gather in Quebec, the U.S. is on a collision course with the 6 other members over it the Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum producers in Europe, Canada and Japan.

Why it matters: The prospect of growing U.S. isolation has not deterred President Trump, who will likely use the summit to push his unilateral, economic nationalist trade agenda even harder. The optics of doing so while simultaneously cutting a deal with ZTE, the Chinese technology giant suspected of posing a national security threat to the U.S., add to allies’ sense of victimhood.

At the core of Trump’s trade policy is the notion that the global economy is unfairly rigged against the United States. Trump harbors particular scorn for America’s friends and neighbors, whom he views as cheaters and free-riders. Trump is convinced he can lower the trade deficit by eschewing multilateral negotiations in favor of a transactional deal-by-deal approach. This strategy is rending the fabric that has for decades knit together the multilateral economic system.

But Trump’s polarizing and divisive approach has yet to generate sizable concessions. He may have underestimated EU unity and the importance that export-dependent European nations place on multilateral trade. Rather than caving in to Trump’s demands and offering appeasement, Germany, France, Britain and Italy — along with Canada and Japan — have stuck to their guns. Their leaders expressed “unanimous concern and disappointment” and pledged “decisive action” in the form of counter-tariffs and challenges to the U.S. at the WTO. Both Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron seem to have concluded their efforts to sway Trump have failed, opting instead now for a more direct confrontational approach.

What’s next: How the current dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs will be resolved is still uncertain. Germany wants to cut a deal with Trump that would eliminate transatlantic tariffs entirely. But France opposes entering into such negotiations under the barrel of a gun. And even if Trump eventually softens up, he will already have done irreparable damage to U.S. credibility and leadership.

The bottom line: Trump has managed to unite America’s friends against itself. And while they duke it out, China and Russia are emerging as the real winners.

Erik Brattberg is director of the Europe Program and a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

Go deeper

Updated 52 mins ago - World

At least 50 killed, 3,000 injured after massive explosion rocks Beirut

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

Driving the news: The cause of the explosion is unknown. Lebanon's health minister said in televised remarks that more than 50 people have been killed and over 3,000 injured.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

The debate over COVID-19 liability protections

Stimulus talks continue to move slowly, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on whether or not to include coronavirus-related liability protections for businesses, health facilities and schools.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the debate, which could reset the cost-benefit analysis for businesses thinking about reopening and employees thinking about returning.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 18,364,694 — Total deaths: 695,848 — Total recoveries — 10,965,634Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 4,742,277 — Total deaths: 156,133 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. States: New York City health commissioner resigns in protest of De Blasio's coronavirus response — New York ER doctor on pandemic advice: "We know what works"
  4. Public health: 59% of Americans support nationwide 2-week stay-at-home order in NPR poll Atrium Health CEO says "virtual hospital" has treated 13,000 COVID patients.
  5. Politics: Republicans push to expand small business loan program Trump tells "Axios on HBO" that pandemic is "under control," despite surges in infections.
  6. Sports: Indy 500 to be held without fansRafael Nadal opts out of U.S. Open.