The G20 summit took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 30th and December 1st. There were several notable interactions that took place.
Most notably, there appears to be a reprieve in the US-China trade war. US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping took part in a two-hour dinner. The outcome was that Trump and Xi agreed to stop the trade war from escalating and promised to temporarily halt the impositions of new tariffs.
Chinese state-run CGTN TV reported that no additional tariffs will be imposed after January 1st, 2019.
The White House announced that Trump agreed to leave tariffs at a 10% rate after January 1st as China agreed to buy a substantial amount of products from the US. However, if no trade pact is reached within 90 days the tariffs will rise to 25%.
The White House further said that China has agreed to start purchasing “very substantial” US agricultural, energy, industrial and other products “immediately” from the US to reduce the trade imbalance.
Xi agreed to designate fentanyl as a controlled substance, “meaning that people selling fentanyl to the United States will be subject to China’s maximum penalty under the law,” according to Sarah Sanders.
Bloomberg reported that China’s foreign minister Wang Yi claimed that China-US relations must be good following the constructive trade talks and that China is going to resolve any legitimate US concerns and that there would be steps to eliminate all tariffs. In addition to that, Wang claimed that the US would agree to continue upholding the one China policy. No additional details were provided.
China and Argentina also signed a currency swap deal, following the summit. The new deal, an extension of a swap signed by the two countries last year, brings the total swap amount to $18.7 billion.
Donald Trump also cancelled his official meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, over the recent Kerch Strait incident. However, Putin said that he and Trump had a brief informal discussion during the summit.
“He has his position on that and I have mine,” Putin told reporters, adding that the two leaders did not change their positions. The Russian leader also expressed regret that he didn’t have a full meeting with Trump, because “the time is ripe, particularly with the problems around strategic stability.”
The two leaders spoke about how it is “essential to revive economic and trade issues” Putin said. Putin also claimed that the US and Russia needed to establish dialogue with each other and other countries on the issues of Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea.
“As is typical at multilateral events, President Trump and the first lady had a number of informal conversations with world leaders at the dinner last night, including President Putin,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, without providing additional details.
It appeared that the Russian leader used the time scheduled for the canceled meeting with Trump to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish leader called for another summit to discuss the situation in Syria’s Idlib. “Holding another four-way summit on Idlib is important. I believe that we have different steps that we should take together on Idlib,” Erdoğan told journalists, after stressing that he discussed “vital issues” with Putin.
Vladimir Putin also met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two leaders discussed a mechanism to speed up negotiations on a peace treaty. The foreign ministers of Japan and Russia will head the new framework of the negotiations.
“We agreed to create a supplementary mechanism for future mutual work as well as to heighten the level of trust,” Putin said at a news conference after his meeting with Abe. This is of significance since Japan is one of the states that are currently imposing sanctions on Russia, however that may possibly change.
Russian president’s aide Yuri Ushakov said that Vladimir Putin informed French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the details of the Kerch Strait incident on the sidelines of the summit.
“I can tell that during his contacts with Macron and Merkel the president told about what had happened near Kerch in detail. Yes, he drew schemes to demonstrate how provocatively the Ukrainian military were acting,” Ushakov said.
Considering the formal reaction of the EU and NATO towards Ukraine’s calls and conduct, it is becoming more and more apparent that this was, in fact, a provocation by Poroshenko’s government.
Vladimir Putin also met with the Saudi Crown Prince met with, after the warm greeting that resembled a high-five they exchanged at the beginning of the summit. Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to extend their deal to manage the oil market, known as OPEC+ into 2019. Moscow and Riyadh have not confirmed any fresh output cuts yet. There is nothing concrete, however OPEC leaders have given their blessings on an agreement.
“There is no final decision on volumes, but together with Saudi Arabia we will do it,” Putin said. “And whatever number there will be based on this joint decision, we agreed that we will monitor the market situation and react to it quickly.”
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted that the meeting came on the sidelines, no details were provided.
U.A.E. Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei, said he was optimistic OPEC+ will reach an agreement over a reduction in production for 2019 when they meet.
French President Emmanuel Macron had somewhat harsh words for the Saudi Crown Prince while in the open, calling for an international investigation into the Khashoggi murder. On the sidelines, however they appeared to be much friendlier, with Macron expressing his worries that MbS might be in trouble.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman also met with British Prime Minister Theresa May. An official UK summary of the meeting said she had “urged concrete Saudi support for UN special envoy Martin Griffiths and for progress at the upcoming Stockholm talks.”
The Crown Prince also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two discussed Saudi Arabia’s readiness to supply India with oil and petroleum products. MbS also reportedly spoke about plans to increase investment in India’s tech, farm and energy sectors.
In all, the summit brought some relatively promising news for the US-China trade war. It also provided an ample example of how unending support for Saudi Arabia is from its key allies, in addition to India and Russia.