Leaders from 20 of the world’s most powerful economies converged in Buenos Aires between Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 for the annual G20 summit to discuss topics in international finance, politics and economics.
While the official agenda of the summit focused on three main subjects — the future of work, infrastructure for development and a sustainable food future — privately scheduled meetings between President Donald Trump with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China, ensured that the topics not on the agenda would provoke the most interest leading up to the event.
The first G20 summit occurred in 2008 in Washington amid the global financial crisis and was seen as largely effective in calming the nerves of national banks by providing a sense of reassurance about the future of international finance.
Since then, G20 members, composed of 19 countries and the European Union, have met each year to discuss current topics and issues in economics and finance, although, the effectiveness of recent summits has been brought into question as they do not establish formal changes in legislation or policies, only recommendations.
In the days leading up to the 2018 summit, it was revealed that Trump planned to meet over dinner with Jinping to discuss trade policies between the U.S. and China.
After months of claims from Trump that the tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports — and subsequent Chinese retaliations — would not end, the odds for an end to the trade war were slim. Sure enough, no final agreement was established, though a temporary truce was made in which Trump agreed to hold off on raising tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on most Chinese goods for 90 days starting Jan. 1 in order to make room for further negotiations.
However, the results of the meeting were reported differently by Trump than they were by the White House, which was also reported differently by the Chinese government, causing confusion as to what exactly the terms of the agreement are.
U.S. markets saw a rally after news that tariffs would not be raised for some time. U.S. stocks had not been performing well in the preceding weeks, the pause on the trade war inspired confidence even though a complete ceasefire is yet to have been reached.
While Trump had plans to meet with Putin to discuss involvement in Ukraine, arms control and involvement in Syria, Trump decided not to carry out the meeting, citing disagreement with Russia’s recent seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels as his reason for doing so. Russian media outlets largely criticized Trump for the move.
After claiming he does not believe in the climate issues described by the climate report released by his administration on Black Friday, Trump again denied the idea that climate change is a pressing issue by refusing to affirm support for the Paris Agreement. The United States was the only nation in attendance of the G20 summit that did not do so, falling in line with Trump’s promise made in the summer of 2017 to pull out of the agreement.
By Julian Tineo