G-20 agrees on trade, migration
China, U.S. reach 90-day cease-fire in trade disputes
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Leaders of the world's top economies agreed Saturday to repair the global trading system as they closed a Group of 20 summit that saw the Trump administration at odds with many allies over the Paris accord on climate change and issues like migration.
At the same conference, the United States and China reached a 90-day cease-fire in a trade dispute that has rattled financial markets and threatened world economic growth.
The breakthrough came after a dinner meeting Saturday between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.
In another long-sought concession to the U.S., China agreed to label fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opioid responsible for tens of thousands of American drug deaths annually, as a controlled substance.
The joint statement signed by all 20 member nations said 19 of them reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord, with the United States, which withdrew from the pact under Trump, the lone holdout.
The official communique acknowledged flaws in global commerce and called for reforming the World Trade Organization, but it didn't mention the word “protectionism” after negotiators said that they had met resistance from the United States.
The final language of the statement says, regarding climate, that 19 nations that are signatories to the Paris accord reiterate their commitment to it while the U.S. reiterates its decision to withdraw. It also notes a recent U.N. report that warned damage from global warming will be much worse than previously feared, and expresses support for an upcoming U.N. climate meeting in Poland meant to nail down how countries will meet promises made in the Paris accord.
The nonbinding agreement was reached after marathon talks by diplomats stretched through the night and into daylight, amid divisions between member nations. European Union officials said the United States was the main holdout on nearly every issue. Trump has criticized the WTO and taken aggressive trade policies targeting China and the EU.
A senior White House official said the joint statement meets many U.S. objectives and stressed that it includes language about WTO reform. The official also noted other elements such as language on workforce development and women's economic development and a commitment by China to doing infrastructure financing on “transparent terms.”
According to the official, the unusual language on climate was necessary for Washington to sign on, and Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Russia had appeared sympathetic to the U.S. position but stayed with the other countries.
Still for Trump, his Saturday evening meeting with China's Xi was the marquee event of the president's two-day trip to Argentina after he canceled a formal sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin over mounting tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump agreed not to raise U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports as scheduled on Jan. 1, when tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods were set to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.
She added that the two countries will “immediately begin negotiations on structural changes” around intellectual property protections, cybertheft and other U.S. priorities.
The White House said that if the two sides don't reach agreement within 90 days, then Trump will impose the tariffs.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, quoting a report in China's state-run Xinhua news agency, said that the two sides had agreed that “no additional tariffs will be imposed after January.”
Trump and Xi are seeking a way out of a trade war between the world's two biggest economies, while also saving face for their domestic audiences.
Trump has already imposed import taxes on $250 billion in Chinese products, but Trump agreed to hold off on plans to raise tariffs Jan. 1 on $200 billion in Chinese goods.
China, meanwhile, has slapped tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. goods.
China on Saturday also agreed to label fentanyl a controlled substance, the White House said.
U.S. officials for years have been pressing the Chinese government to take a tougher stance against fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin.
Most U.S. supply of the drug is manufactured in China.
Sanders said the decision means that “people selling fentanyl to the United States will be subject to China's maximum penalty under the law.”
Trump also canceled a Saturday news conference, citing respect for the Bush family following the death of former President George H.W. Bush.
Russia's Putin, meanwhile, eventually got his chance to talk with Trump — but their brief exchange over Ukraine didn't accomplish much.
The two men spoke Saturday on the sidelines of the G-20 — just long enough for Trump to ask Putin what he is up to in Ukraine, and for Putin to respond.
“I answered his questions about the incident in the Black Sea. He has his position. I have my own. We stayed in our own positions,” Putin told reporters.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, left, and President Donald Trump’s dinner came amid a trade dispute between the two nations.