World leaders should have all more or less arrived at the G20 Summit in Osaka Japan.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Premier tweeted “Wheels up for Osaka, Japan with a busy few days ahead at the #G20 Leaders Summit. We’ll focus on fighting climate change, advancing gender equality, and creating more opportunities or the middle class.”
The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, wrote an op-ed for Project Syndicate on 21 June noting that the summit will focus on three key issues:
Free and Fair Trade
“For Asia’s leaders, this means forging the RCEP, or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, an advanced free-trade agreement between the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six Indo-Pacific states (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand).“
Abe commented that the discussions had been going on for a long time now and a conclusion was necessary.
“Digitalization of the economy has enabled unique and unprecedented business models, but it has also brought new challenges, such as double non-taxation for multinational companies. We can resolve such issues only through international cooperation.
The data traveling instantaneously around the world are indifferent to national boundaries. I believe that the economic and social impact of such data will rival, even surpass, the roles that petroleum and the internal combustion engine played in the twentieth century.”
Abe said that the Osaka summit would see Japan advocating the flow of data be regulated to allow the benefits of the Digital Economy to spread to Asia and around the world.
“The goals outlined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “1.5˚C report” are not achievable through regulation alone. Disruptive innovation that flips something negative into something positive will be the key to realizing the world’s climate goals.”
Abe pointed out that previously carbon dioxide had been looked at as having a negative impact on the environment, but could now be harnessed as a resource using artificial photosynthesis. An innovation that he will be looking for the G20 to recognise. Japan also wants the G20 summit members to agree to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the ocean.
Meetings between world leaders will be taking place alongside the summit. These meetings could be even more productive (or destructive) than the summit itself.
Donald Trump (USA) – Xi Jinping (China)
All eyes will be on Trump and Xi as the pair will be looking to call a truce on the current trade war between the USA and China. In recent months the situation has escalated, with the US putting Chinese telecom company Huawei and four other Chinese tech firms on a trade ‘blacklist’ with Trump threatening to impose tariffs on $300bn worth of Chinese goods if they don’t strike a trade deal soon. Beijing responded furiously with increased scrutiny on US firms operating in China, like FedEx.
With ‘China’s economy slowing, and Mr Trump heading into an election year, neither side can afford to let the trade war go on for much longer. If a truce is announced, there will be relief from G20 nations too. The trade war is having an impact on global growth, with the International Monetary Fund and others warning that escalating US-China trade tensions are among the biggest threats to the world economy.’ (27.06.19, BBC)
The meeting is scheduled to take place Saturday (29.06.19) morning.
Donald Trump (USA) – Vladimir Putin (Russia)
The meeting between the USA and Russia was called off last year after Russian ships opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian vessels near Crimea. This year Trump has told reporters that it is “none of your business” what he will be discussing with the Russian leader after questioned on whether they will be discussing election interference. This meeting will be the first time both leaders have seen each other since the Mueller report was concluded. The report concluded ‘that Russia engaged in a systematic effort to interfere in the 2016 election, but investigators did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.’ (26.06.19, The Hill)
Donald Trump (USA) – Narendra Modi (India)
Trump will talking to Modi about the ‘high’ tariffs imposed on the USA by India. Government sources have told Reuters that India’s tariffs are not that high compared to other developing countries.
Donald Trump (USA) – Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey)
‘Perhaps the least understood of the high-stakes meetings at the G20 will be that between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose new Russian S-400 missile system arrives next month. The purchase is a significant affront to the U.S. and to NATO — not only is the system incompatible with NATO weapons systems, but it would undermine the stealth capabilities of the F-35 fighter jet and provide data on its vulnerabilities to Russia.
While the crisis has been a long time coming, everything now comes down to the Trump-Erdogan meeting as possibly the last chance to avert the U.S. sanctions Congress is likely to levy over the weapons purchase. While the sanctions are likely to be limited — probably targeting just those involved in the S-400 deal — they would mark the first time such measures have been deployed against a NATO ally. For Russia, the episode marks the biggest success in its efforts to fracture the NATO alliance.’ (21.06.19, Japan Times)
Erdogan will still be reeling from the Istanbul election re-run disaster and all eyes will be on him.
Although Japan is using the G20 to address climate change, protests are planned in response to the government’s plans to build new coal-fired plants. The Financial Times wrote on Wednesday (26.06.19) that ‘The G20 summit in Osaka, which starts on Friday, comes after global emissions hit a record high and as demonstrators are planning protests over Japan’s pro-coal policies. Activists are preparing to inflate a balloon with a likeness of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, standing in a bucket of coal..’
The protest has seemingly drawn inspiration from the ‘Trump Baby’ balloon which became a focal point of Mr Trump’s 2018 visit to the UK and which flew again this year as the US president stayed with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Sources and further reading
The G20 Comes to Japan: Making Sense of the Osaka Agenda
The G20 in Osaka – Shinzo Abe oped
G20 summit: All eyes on Trump-Xi trade war showdown
G20 Summit details – official website
What to Expect from the G20 Summit
Trump to reporter: What I say to Putin at G-20 is none of your business
“You Were First Friend To Congratulate Me,” PM Tells Shinzo Abe: 10 Points
Three meetings to watch at the G20 summit
Opinion: Tantrums over Trump Baby
G20 2018 Buenos Aires
Trump Baby Balloon – Samantha Sharp for Make Me Aware
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