G7 summit, Putin visits Austria, Apple conference
The FT's Vanessa Kortekaas highlights the key stories to watch this week, including the G7 summit taking place in Canada amid growing trade tensions between the US and its allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting Austria, and Apple's developer conference.
Filmed by Rod Fitzgerald. Edited by Petros Gioumpasis. Produced by Vanessa Kortekaas. Still images by Getty and Reuters
Hello, and welcome to the Week Ahead from the Financial Times in London. Here's some of the big stories we'll be watching in the coming days. G7 leaders are heading to Canada for the annual summit amid growing tensions between the US and its allies.
Russian president Vladimir Putin heads to Austria. And what new gadgets does Apple have up its sleeve? We'll find out at the company's developer conference.
Let's start in Canada, where the quiet town of La Malbaie in Quebec is set to host this year's Group of Seven summit. The meeting of the seven leading advanced economies on June 8 and 9 promises to be a fractious event. There were disagreements at last year's meeting in Italy, where US President Donald Trump refused to sign up to environmental commitments and the others decided to press on regardless. But this year, trade tensions will dominate the meeting between the US, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, and Canada.
The US administration has begun levying tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from economies, including Canada, Mexico, and the EU. And that's on the grounds of national security. Those affected have quickly responded by announcing tit for tat tariffs on US imports. This all comes, of course, as Canada, the US, and Mexico are in the process of renegotiating Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Here's a look at what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had to say.
These tariffs are totally unacceptable, that Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable. These tariffs will harm industry and workers on both sides of the Canada-US border. These tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States and in particular an affront to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside their American brothers in arms.
Now Vladimir Putin is set to visit Vienna on Tuesday for talks with Austrian president Alexander Vander der Bellen and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. This is being seen as a prime opportunity for the Russian president to step up efforts to exploit the divisions in Europe's relationship with the US. For years Moscow has been claiming that the US is forcing an anti-Russian agenda on Europe that runs counter to Europe's own interest.
Now, the Trump administration's unilateral exit from the Iran nuclear deal has driven some European politicians to echo that tune. Mr Putin will be hoping to convince Austria to oppose the rollover of anti-Russian sanctions, which EU governments are due to agree this month just as Austria prepares to take over the rotating EU presidency. Here's Gideon Rachman, our chief foreign affairs columnist, with more on Russia EU relations.
Vladimir Putin's visit to Austria is a potentially important one for the Russian leader, because the Russians are trying to break free from the western imposed isolation or semi-isolation that happened after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 - economic sanctions and all of that. Austria, although, it's a small country, is a potentially important one for the Russians, because it's more Russia friendly than most of the EU. It didn't, for example, expel Russian diplomats as most European countries did after the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal here in the UK. And the Austrians also keen on a strong economic relationship with Russia and traditionally have been a neutral country, not a member of Nato. So Austria could be a kind of lever for the Russians.
And finally, Apple fans take note. The company's annual developer conference is set to take place this week. The meeting ranked second only to the iPhone launch in the company's calendar of events and is an opportunity for app makers to preview the next version of iOS, brush up on their coding and design skills, and mingle with the app store as gatekeepers. For investors and analysts, it often provides a hint of where Apple's headed next.
Advances in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and the so-called smart home are expected as Apple races to match Google and Amazon. Apple is also likely to address growing concerns about smartphone addiction after a group of investors pressed the iPhone maker earlier this year over the unintentional negative side effects in children. Here's our US technology correspondent Tim Bradshaw with more on what to expect.
Last year at Apple's develop a conference, it unveiled the HomePod, which was the Siri powered smart speaker designed to compete with Amazon's Echo and Google Home. But the device shipped late. They didn't get it out in time for Christmas.
It's a lot more expensive than the $100 or less smart speakers that its rivals are selling. And so the performance has really been seen as kind of lacklustre, which has been a complaint about Siri, Apple's virtual assistant, for some time. So I think the really interesting test at the WWDC events this week will be as to whether Apple is really showing progress in artificial intelligence and virtual assistance. Otherwise, it risks being left behind by its rivals in Silicon Valley.
And that's what the week ahead looks like in the Financial Times in London. See you again next time.