All eyes on Trump and Xi as G20 summit kicks off

Geneva Stokes
November 30, 2018

The presence of Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, will be awkward for most of the Western leaders at the G20 summit in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

G20 powers open two days of summit talks in crisis-hit Argentina on Friday after a stormy buildup dominated by US President Donald Trump's consensus-bucking crusade to realign world trade.

Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to hold trade talks in Buenos Aires on Saturday, Reuters said.

"The last summits have been somewhat disappointing and marked by contention, particularly over trade-related issues". A meeting with Trump has not been ruled out by the White House.

And, according to Trump, "the brunt of it is being paid by China".

"The fact that this is an agreement in three languages adds to the level of technical complexity, and it is on that level that we're just being sure that all the i's are dotted and all the t's are crossed".

In an earlier statement, Morrison said this G20 was "critically important to Australia as an open, trade-reliant economy".

"I am very happy with what's going on right now", the US president declared, referring to the current tariff situation.

Trump - and especially officials in his administration - have tried traditional diplomatic strategies.

Participants of the demonstrations marched along Buenos Aires's streets carrying banners with slogans protesting the summit, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

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The Wall Street Journal, which conducted the interview with the president, said some Trump aides had suggested iPhones and laptops might be excluded from additional tariffs. "We hope that the USA can meet China halfway and follow the consensus reached by the two leaders at the telephone conversation to strive for positive outcomes of this summit".

Trump said on Twitter that the 25 percent tariff placed on imported pickup trucks and commercial vans from markets outside North America in the 1960s had long boosted US vehicle production.

Trump relishes the one-on-one dynamics with other world leaders. "And it is willing to cooperate with Washington in dealing with concerns about trade if they are fair-minded", the paper said.

They are opposed by China hawks who include U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, National Security adviser John Bolton, many National Security officials, and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro. If a deal can not be reached, Trump has threatened further tariffs on Chinese goods, with the possibility of placing levies on all $US500 billion of Chinese goods coming to the US. Missing was any Trump-ian guarantee that the deal-maker in chief would leave the dinner and inform the press he had cleared everything up with Xi.

Rather, the goal is "that there would be an indication, a kind of way ahead that the advisors could then pursue", Bolton said.

The current strains in relations between Washington and Beijing, stemming from deep-rooted disagreements on a variety of issues between the two nations, are unlikely to be resolved with any lone trade deal.

But Trump has repeatedly said he wants to bring down the trade imbalance by a whopping $200 billion, which would require China imposing artificial limits to trade.

But Allen doubts there will be any detailed settlement negotiated to end the trade dispute writing, "We still expect the best possible result this weekend will be a temporary pause in tariffs, including the remaining $267 billion in Chinese imports..."

But messages from the opposition party ahead of the summit have been mixed.

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