Xi-Trump meet under spotlight at G20 summit
High expectations countries will heed call to reaffirm globalization
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.