Tough negotiations need basic guiding principles at G20 summit

By Hu Weijia in Buenos Aires Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/1 1:28:44

The 2018 G20 summit kicked off in Argentine capital Buenos Aires on Friday. Negotiations on major issues at the summit including trade are expected to be tough.  

While global leaders were warmly welcomed by the friendly and passionate people of Buenos Aires, those directly involved in the G20 - including government officials, observers and journalists - are obviously stressed out. 

Even before US President Donald Trump arrived he caught officials and observers here off guard by cancelling his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

At the other end of the diplomatic spectrum, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on several occasions on Friday. 

Predicting potential outcomes of the Xi-Trump meeting is perhaps the hottest topic of discussion in Buenos Aires. Just about everyone connected to the summit, including local residents, is constantly searching for clues to discover which leaders have been seen together, where they are meeting and even what they will eat.

This year's summit comes at a very sensitive time, as the world's multilateral trading system is facing its worst crisis since 1947. In recent months, trade conflicts have triggered efforts to reform the WTO, but unilateralism, protectionism and disputes over other issues such as state-owned enterprises may dampen chances of reaching any agreement on WTO reforms.

"This is the moment when some very basic principles of the organization, principles of cooperation, and principles of non-discrimination are being challenged and put into question." WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo was quoted by BBC as saying Friday.

After months of tough talk and no sign of a resolution of trade tensions, Roberto Azevedo arrived in Buenos Aires to seek opportunities for consensus from the G20 summit.

If G20 leaders fail to reach a trade agreement in Buenos Aires, the WTO and the world's current multilateral trading system will be at risk. In a worst-case scenario, a disintegration of the WTO could cause global economic chaos. 

We have to avoid the collapse of the WTO to ensure it can continue to operate. That's why people have attached great significance to this year's G20 summit. At a time of great economic uncertainty, hopefully G20 leaders can present an informative communiqué at the summit that will allow the world's multilateral trading system to survive despite rising protectionism and unilateralism.

The most important element that will decide the outcome of the summit is reciprocity. China will further open up its economy in the face of rising protectionism, offering the world more business opportunities. But Beijing opposes all forms of unilateralism and will safeguard legitimate interests of its homegrown enterprises, including those that are State-owned. 

On the sidelines of G20 summit, leaders from BRICS countries met at an informal meeting and issued a joint communiqué, in which several issues that China advocates gained support from other BRICS members.

China has taken practical actions to safeguard the world's multilateral trading system. Now, we expect to see the same sincerity from other G20 members, especially the US.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn



Posted in: EYE ON ECONOMY

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