At G-20, possible 'breakthrough' seen after all-night talks

Published 12-01-2018

0 Ratings

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - All-night talks at the Group of 20 summit led to a possible "breakthrough" on fixing the global trading system, European diplomats said Saturday, as negotiations stretched into the final hours of the gathering's crucial second and final day in the Argentine capital.

Despite deep divisions going into the summit and resistance from the United States, European Union officials were optimistic and said countries were making progress on a final statement that will acknowledge problems with the World Trade Organization but commit to reforming it.

The U.S. was the main holdout on nearly every issue, the officials said. U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the WTO and taken aggressive trade policies targeting China and the EU.

But China pushed back in talks on steel, South Africa objected to language on trade, Australia didn't want the statement to be too soft on migration and Turkey worried it would push too far on climate change, according to the officials.

With trade tensions between the U.S and China dominating the summit, the Europeans sought to play mediator.

They also scaled back their expectations, cutting out mention of rising protectionism - mainly aimed at Trump - and agreeing to language on climate that says 19 leaders support the Paris climate accord and international efforts to reduce emissions, but the U.S. doesn't.

The six-page draft statement says the 20 countries support the international trading system but acknowledge that the current system doesn't work and needs fixing, via reform of the WTO. The European diplomats called this the "main breakthrough."

On climate, the statement 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.

On migration, the U.S. negotiator said too much talk about migration would have been a "deal-breaker" for Trump, the European officials said. So they came up with "minimalist" language that acknowledges growing migrant flows and the importance of shared efforts to support refugees and solve the problems that drive them to flee.

The statement also shows a commitment to a "rules-based international order," despite Trump's rejection of many of those rules.

"There were m

The six-page draft statement says the 20 countries support the international trading system but acknowledge that the current system doesn't work and needs fixing, via reform of the WTO. The European diplomats called this the "main breakthrough."

On climate, the statement 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.

On migration, the U.S. negotiator said too much talk about migration would have been a "deal-breaker" for Trump, the European officials said. So they came up with "minimalist" language that acknowledges growing migrant flows and the importance of shared efforts to support refugees and solve the problems that drive them to flee.

The statement also shows a commitment to a "rules-based international order," despite Trump's rejection of many of those rules.

"There were moments when we thought all was lost," one European official said, "moments when we spent two hours on one sentence."

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing closed-door discussions.

Perhaps surprisingly, one country that was seen as particularly constructive was Russia, the officials said. Despite tensions over its military actions on Ukraine and political interference abroad, Russia supports international efforts on trade and climate.

While a statement isn't legally binding, the Europeans see it as proof that the G-20 is still relevant and that multilateralism still works.

Saturday will also see a highly anticipated meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose nations have been embroiled in an escalating trade war with new U.S. tariffs on China goods set to take effect a month from now.

"The trade war between the United States and China does

On migration, the U.S. negotiator said too much talk about migration would have been a "deal-breaker" for Trump, the European officials said. So they came up with "minimalist" language that acknowledges growing migrant flows and the importance of shared efforts to support refugees and solve the problems that drive them to flee.

The statement also shows a commitment to a "rules-based international order," despite Trump's rejection of many of those rules.

"There were moments when we thought all was lost," one European official said, "moments when we spent two hours on one sentence."

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing closed-door discussions.

Perhaps surprisingly, one country that was seen as particularly constructive was Russia, the officials said. Despite tensions over its military actions on Ukraine and political interference abroad, Russia supports international efforts on trade and climate.

While a statement isn't legally binding, the Europeans see it as proof that the G-20 is still relevant and that multilateralism still works.

Saturday will also see a highly anticipated meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose nations have been embroiled in an escalating trade war with new U.S. tariffs on China goods set to take effect a month from now.

"The trade war between the United States and China does not favor international commerce. ... A fight between two big players does not benefit," said Dante Sica, Argentina's minister of production and labor. "If they are able to begin to agree, it would be a good signal that would reduce the impacts on international commerce."

The divisions among the world's leading economies were evident from the moment Argentina's president opened the summit Friday with a call for international cooperation to solve the planet's problems.

On Friday, a U.S. official said progress was being made on the joint statement and the White House was "optimistic" about the document as a whole.

In remarks opening Saturday's session, Argentine President Mauricio Macri said his country is committed to the Paris accord, protecting marine areas and lowering emissions, calling sustainable development "the north star of all our economic, social and environmental goals."

"Inclusive growth that protects the environment is a challenge of the 21st century," Macri said. "Climate sustainability requires urgent collective action to prevent jeopardizing our future and that of generations to come."

The next G-20 summit is to be held in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019.

___

Associated Press writers Peter Orsi and Luis Andres Henao in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.

No comments found. Sign up or Login to rate and review content.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump talk with Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and his wife Juliana Awada as they arrive at the Teatro Colon to join other heads of state for the G20 leaders dinner, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) - The Associated Press


Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20 Leader's Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Leaders from the Group of 20 industrialized nations are meeting in Buenos Aires. (Marcos Brindicci/Pool Photo via AP) - The Associated Press


World leaders gather for a group photo at the start of the G20 Leader's Summit at the Costa Salguero Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Bottom row from left are Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, France's President Emmanuel Macron, President Donald Trump, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and China's President Xi Jinping. Behind are European Council's President Donald Tusk, the Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte, unidentified, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, unidentified, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, unidentified, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, unidentified, and Chile's President Sebastian Pinera. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan) - The Associated Press


Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, left, and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison shake hands during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Leader's Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello) - The Associated Press


Riot police block an avenue as protesters march against the G20 summit being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Leaders from the Group of 20 industrialized nations are meeting in Buenos Aires for two days starting today. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) - The Associated Press


Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and France's President Emmanuel Macron pose for a photo prior to their talks at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Leaders from the Group of 20 industrialized nations are meeting in Buenos Aires for two days starting Friday. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) - The Associated Press


Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photo during their meeting at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) - The Associated Press