A look at what happened at the G-20 summit in Argentina
LEADERS of the world’s largest economic powers have agreed to overhaul the global body that regulates trade disputes, but they faced resistance from President Donald Trump over the Paris accord on climate change.
Here are some of the main developments at the Group of 20 summit, which wrapped up Saturday:
World Trade Organization All G-20 leaders called for reforming the World Trade Organization and the issue will be discussed during the group’s next summit in Osaka, Japan, in June. The gathering’s final statement, however, did not mention protectionism after negotiators said the US objected to the wording. Trump has criticized the WTO and taken aggressive trade policies targeting China and the European Union.
US-China trade war Financial markets will be cheered by the announcement that Trump and Chines President Xi Jinping agreed at a dinner after the summit to have a 90-day truce in their trade battle.
Trump agreed to hold off on plans to raise tariffs January 1 on US$200 billion in Chinese goods. Xi agreed to buy a “not yet agreed upon, but very substantial amount of agricultural, energy, industrial” and other products from the United States to reduce America’s huge trade deficit with China, the White House said.
The cease-fire will buy time for the two countries to work out their differences in a dispute over Beijing’s aggressive drive to supplant US technological dominance.
Prince under pressure There were some awkward moments for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as some leaders called him out over the gruesome October killing of dissident Saudi newspaper columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the country’s consulate in Istanbul.
French President Emmanuel Macron was captured on video seemingly lecturing bin Salman, at one point being heard saying “I am worried,” “you never listen to me,” and “I am a man of my word.” Macron said the crown prince only “took note” of his concerns.
British Prime Minister Theresa May also said she pressed bin Salman. But it wasn’t all bad for bin Salman.
He was not shunned, and on the gathering’s first day, he and Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in a hearty grip-and-grin as the two seemingly reveled in their shared status as relative outcasts.
Ukraine conflict Western leaders confronted Putin over Russia’s recent seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels and crews, but the diplomatic pressure didn’t seem to bring either side closer to solving the conflict. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of being responsible for the standoff.
Trump cited Russia’s actions as the reason that he canceled a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the summit. EU Council President Donald Tusk sharply criticised “Russia’s aggression” against Ukraine.
Putin tried to convince Trump and the leaders of France and Germany that Russia’s actions were justified — even pulling out a piece of paper and drawing a map of the disputed area to make his point.
Climate change The final communique signed by all 20 member nations said 19 of them reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord. The only holdout was the US, which has withdrawn from the pact under Trump.
NAFTA After two years of negotiations, Trump signed a revised North American trade pact with the leaders of Canada and Mexico on the sidelines of the summit.
The deal is meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump long denigrated as a “disaster.”
Low expectations low output Even the host country had lowered expectations ahead of the summit, saying before the gathering started that it might not be possible to reach a consensus for a final statement.
After sleepless days of round-theclock talks by diplomats, a communique was produced, but analysts said leaders merely signed a watered down statement that skirted trade and other contentious issues. – AP
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin speak at the start of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Friday.