After hours of tense negotiation, world leaders of the G20 have signed off on a summit-ending agreement reaffirming a commitment to multilateral trade and a “rules-based international order” – but the real winner may yet be Donald Trump.
There is no doubt of the impact the US president has on the world stage, with the final communique from the two-day meeting in Buenos Aires having to tip-toe around American demands. The message involved a pledge to reform the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with Mr Trump having built his campaign for the presidency on the idea that America was being treated unfairly on trade issues.
The statement – which involved negotiations that lasted through the night – did not mention the word “protectionism” after negotiators said that had met resistance from the United States. The EU, and its individual members, had been looking to put pressure on Mr Trump over the issue, given his ‘America First’ doctrine, but officials said they had felt resistance from Washington on almost every issue.
Here’s what we should hope to come out of the G20 summit
Mr Trump and his team were also the lone holdouts on language in the statement over global warming. The joint statement signed by all 20 member nations said 19 of them reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord, with the US having previously announced its withdrawal from the pact.
Apparently Saudi Arabia, Russia and Turkey all wavered on the issue of climate change before siding with the majority. Hardliners in Mr Trump’s administration, such as national security advisor John Bolton, will take heart from the fact that there could be some movement on such issues.
On global commerce, the statement says the 20 countries support multilateral trade but acknowledge that the current system does not work and needs fixing, via “the necessary reform of the WTO to improve its functioning”.