What to watch for at G20 summit in Argentina

While leaders will try to build consensus on key issues at G20 summit, the talks will be overshadowed by trade tensions between the United States and China

Scott Squires, Reuters
First Published28 Nov 2018
G20 summit’s most closely watched meeting will be between Trump and Xi. Photo: Reuters
G20 summit’s most closely watched meeting will be between Trump and Xi. Photo: Reuters

Global leaders will gather in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires this week for the Group of 20 summit, a meeting of the world’s largest economies responsible for 85% of global economic output and two-thirds of the world’s population.

While leaders will try to build consensus on key issues, the talks will be overshadowed by trade tensions between the United States and China.

Below is a breakdown of what to expect from the two-day summit, taking place Friday and Saturday:

What are the key issues at the summit?

Leaders will discuss the global economy, the future of labour markets and gender equality issues. They will also talk about macroeconomic policy, the digital economy, reform of the World Trade Organization, financial regulation, taxation and trade issues.

US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imports from major trading partners, particularly China, will likely dominate the conversation.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet for the first time since Washington imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and China retaliated with its own measures.

China hopes to convince Washington to hold off on hiking tariffs to 25% from 10% on 1 January. But officials from both countries are skeptical of any major breakthroughs that could lead to a resolution in the trade war.

Delegates will also discuss climate change, another contentious issue after Trump last year announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.

Will leaders sign a communique?

This month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit failed to reach consensus on a communique, so there is a question over whether world leaders will be able to reach an agreement at the G20, particularly around trade and climate change.

Officials from some member countries helping to prepare for the meeting say they are hopeful it will end with a communique, but they have acknowledged that progress has been slow, and the final document will likely be watered down to avoid contentious issues. The officials, known as “sherpas”, convened on Monday in Buenos Aires to begin final negotiations on the communique.

Which are the meetings to watch?

The summit’s most closely watched meeting will be between Trump and Xi, which White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said would take place over dinner on Saturday night. The outcome could determine whether the US-China trade dispute will de-escalate, or intensify.

Trump is also expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two are expected to discuss the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after Trump said in October the United States would quit the agreement because Russia was not honouring it.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may meet Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first time. It follows the Saudi killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, which sparked global outrage.

Trump is also expected to meet with the crown prince. The president has defended US ties with Saudi Arabia, although sources say the CIA believes the crown prince ordered the journalist’s murder.

The United States, Mexico and Canada are expected to sign a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Friday, which has been dubbed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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