Xi-Trump meet un­der spot­light at G20 sum­mit

High ex­pec­ta­tions coun­tries will heed call to reaf­firm glob­al­iza­tion

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Yang Sheng

Fac­ing the sharp rise in trade-re­stric­tive mea­sures, the two-day Group of 20 (G20) sum­mit, which be­gan on Fri­day in Buenos Aires, is ex­pected to seek so­lu­tions for an im­proved mul­ti­lat­eral mech­a­nism more re­silient to the chal­lenges of pro­tec­tion­ism and uni­lat­er­al­ism.

The ex­pec­ta­tion has also put the meet­ing be­tween Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on the side­lines of the sum­mit un­der the spot­light.

The world is keen to find clues on how mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism can be de­fended and whether head­way can be made in re­solv­ing the China-US trade con­flict at the meet­ing of the lead­ers of the world’s two largest economies.

The G20 is fac­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges when it should be cel­e­brat­ing its 10th an­niver­sary of con­sol­i­da­tion. In­stead it is hav­ing to deal with the very fu­ture of mul­ti­lat­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the WTO in the face of ris­ing uni­lat­er­al­ism, an­a­lysts said. Dis­cus­sions on WTO re­forms will be a key is­sue at this year’s sum­mit, they noted.

Lead­ers of na­tions that make up BRICS met on the side­lines of the sum­mit on Fri­day, and agreed to fully sup­port the mul­ti­lat­eral trade mech­a­nism rep­re­sented by the WTO to en­sure a trans­par­ent, nondis­crim­i­na­tory, open and in­clu­sive global trade sys­tem. BRICS is an or­ga­ni­za­tion that counts Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South

Africa as mem­bers.

They called on all WTO mem­bers to op­pose uni­lat­eral and pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sures which are in­con­sis­tent with WTO rules.

“Both China and the EU, as well as many mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, are vic­tims of uni­lat­er­al­ism that has been im­ple­mented by the US,” said Cui Hongjian, direc­tor of the De­part­ment of Eu­ro­pean Stud­ies at the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies.

China, EU and many other coun­tries share a con­sen­sus on the need for re­forms of the WTO, Cui noted. The US wants WTO re­forms to serve its “Amer­ica First” pol­icy, which would af­fect the in­ter­ests of the rest of the world, Cui said.

Eco­nomic glob­al­iza­tion is the trend of the times, and ef­forts should be made to safe­guard the mul­ti­lat­eral trade sys­tem, China’s Min­istry of Com­merce said Thurs­day.

Ex­pec­ta­tion agree­ment will be reached

“China’s for­eign pol­icy has been an es­sen­tial coun­ter­point to US pro­tec­tion­ist and uni­lat­er­al­ist at­ti­tudes that have in­creased le­gal un­cer­tainty in in­ter­na­tional trade and in­sta­bil­ity of the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem,” said Evan­dro Car­valho, head of the Cen­ter for Brazil-China Stud­ies at FGV Law School in Brazil.

The trade fric­tions ini­ti­ated by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion go be­yond the sim­ple ques­tion of the US trade im­bal­ance with China. By re­fus­ing to reap­point or ap­prove new judges to the WTO Ap­pel­late Body, the US is un­der­min­ing the func­tion­ing of the mul­ti­lat­eral trad­ing sys­tem, and risks im­plod­ing it, he told the Global Times.

There are nor­mally seven WTO ap­peals judges, but as of Septem­ber only three re­main. The ap­pel­late body, WTO’s dis­pute-set­tle­ment mech­a­nism, could break down en­tirely by De­cem­ber 2019 when the terms of two judges ex­pire or if any the three judges re­cuse them­selves from a case for le­gal rea­sons, Reuters re­ported.

The G20 has sought to es­tab­lish it­self as the most ap­pro­pri­ate fo­rum for re­solv­ing ma­jor global eco­nomic crises, said Car­valho.

In an in­ter­view with the Peo­ple’s Daily, Ar­gen­tine Am­bas­sador to China Diego Gue­lar said “there are a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion about this G20.”

“We have been liv­ing, es­pe­cially the last two years, in an at­mos­phere of pro­tec­tion­ism,” he told the Peo­ple’s Daily in an in­ter­view re­leased on Mon­day. The G20 is help­ing to bal­ance this ten­dency, be­cause the essence of the G20 is mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism, he said.

In re­sponse to China-US eco­nomic and trade is­sues, Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesper­son Geng Shuang said on Fri­day that teams from the two sides are in con­tact to push the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the con­sen­sus reached by the top lead­ers of the two coun­tries.

“This will be the first meet­ing be­tween the two lead­ers since the US launched the trade fric­tions against China. If the meet­ing can reach some agree­ments based on mu­tual-re­spect and mu­tual-ben­e­fit, it would surely serve the larger pic­ture of the China-US re­la­tion­ship and the ex­pec­ta­tions of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity,” said Diao Dam­ing, an Amer­i­can stud­ies ex­pert at the Ren­min Uni­ver­sity of China.

To what ex­tent the meet­ing will sta­bi­lize the fric­tions de­pends on the pa­tience and sin­cer­ity of both sides, “the two coun­tries need to meet each other half­way,” Diao told the Global Times.

“China’s at­ti­tude has been con­sis­tent, so the key is whether the US can make a de­ci­sion that serves its na­tional in­ter­est and world ex­pec­ta­tions,” Diao noted.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is wel­comed by Ar­gentina’s Pres­i­dent Mauri­cio Macri at Costa Salguero in Buenos Aires dur­ing the G20 Lead­ers’ Sum­mit on Fri­day.

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