May on Brexit, Macron on Paris, Trudeau on Communique: G-20 Update

(Bloomberg) -- World leaders are wrapping up two days of talks on the global economy and security at the Group of 20 meeting in Argentina, as negotiators reached agreement on a final statement. Donald Trump’s tariff threats weighed on the annual discussions, and the U.S. president will sit down for a highly anticipated dinner Saturday evening with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss a truce in the trade war between the two nations.

Here’s a running recap of the day’s highlights and the greatest hits from Day One:

Delivering on Brexit (5:10 p.m.)

Prime Minister Theresa May had a quick and simple message to reporters at a press event in Buenos Aires: The next nine days will be "really important" for the U.K. and "there’s a lot more for me still to do, not least delivering on Brexit."

Ukraine Raised in More Leaders’ Meetings (4:42 p.m.)

The renewed tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been a topic for further bilateral meetings at the summit. The leaders of Canada and France called on Russia to de-escalate its provocations and for Moscow to release Ukrainian navy vessels it seized in a recent clash.

It was also discussed when German Chancellor Angela Merkel met U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a Merkel spokesman. Trump called a formal meeting at the G-20 with Vladimir Putin.

Trudeau Hails Consensus on Communique (4:36 p.m.)

May on Brexit, Macron on Paris, Trudeau on Communique: G-20 Update

Any G-20 declaration is better than nothing, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who stressed that dialogue between nations is far better than not talking.

“Any time that the major economies of the world come together and commit to work together on the big issues that matter to Canadians and to citizens of the world, that is a good thing,” Trudeau reporters after the annual leaders’ summit ended.

Trudeau said that he used his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to insist on a cease-fire in Yemen and press for better answers regarding the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Macron Questioned About Paris in Argentina (4:30 p.m.)

French President Emmanuel Macron accused protesters in Paris of seeking to unleash chaos, and emphasized that he was open to opposition but not to violence. Macron will meet with his prime minister and police on his return Sunday.

Protests by the “Yellow Vests” movement are sparking clashes across Paris with police firing tear gas and using water cannons while demonstrators set up barricades and burn cars. The Interior Ministry said 75,000 people were taking part in a third weekend of nationwide protests which began against higher gasoline taxes.

May on Brexit, Macron on Paris, Trudeau on Communique: G-20 Update

Negotiators Finish Statement in Nick of Time (2:25 p.m.)

The G-20 nations will declare that geopolitics pose a risk to global growth and reaffirm the value of multilateral trade in a joint statement that officials from member countries agreed to issue on Saturday at the summit’s conclusion. At the same time, the statement will conclude that the current multilateral trade system has flaws while making no reference to the threat posed by protectionist policies.

The negotiators also agreed in their communique to explore reform of the World Trade Organization before the next G-20 summit in Japan in 2019. The document, hammered out in marathon discussions, will also call on the International Monetary Fund to improve its monitoring of public and private debt. It also include language from the U.S. reaffirming the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris climate accord.

The G-20 leaders are expected to sign the document later Saturday.

Pompeo Issues Warning on Iran Missiles (2:20 p.m.)

May on Brexit, Macron on Paris, Trudeau on Communique: G-20 Update

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said a medium-range ballistic missile of the type test-fired by Tehran on Saturday could strike parts of Europe and the entire Middle East. The weapons are capable of carrying multiple warheads, Pompeo said, adding the test violated United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Pompeo warned in a statement of an “accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence.” The U.S. reimposed sanctions on the regime after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear accord.

Trump Sits With Merkel to Talk Trade (1:50 p.m.)

May on Brexit, Macron on Paris, Trudeau on Communique: G-20 Update

President Donald Trump hailed his relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said their countries would work out differences on trade as the two leaders sat down for meeting on Saturday at the G-20.

The two leaders spoke as the world reacted to the death of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush. Merkel remembered Bush for his role in supporting Europe as the Soviet Union collapsed and called him “one of the fathers of the German unification.”

Trump, who earlier canceled his press conference, said he would proceed with the planner dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping but added that the death of Bush “really puts a damper on it.”

Consensus Has Become "More Difficult", Merkel Says (1 p.m.)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while she believes the word ’multilateralism’ will be part of the final G-20 communique, reaching consensus has become ”more difficult”, she said at a press conference in Buenos Aires. Merkel started the briefing by offering condolences to the family of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush and went on to acknowledge the raising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Merkel Pushes Putin on Ukraine Tensions (12:48 p.m.)

May on Brexit, Macron on Paris, Trudeau on Communique: G-20 Update

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to express concern about his recent escalation of tensions with Ukraine. Russian warships fired last week on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch strait off the coast of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Merkel stressed the need for freedom of naval traffic in the nearby Azov Sea, her spokesman said. The two leaders agreed that senior advisers from Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France, known as the Normandy format, would meet, the spokesman added.

Russia warns against trade protectionism (12:38 p.m.)

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters in Buenos Aires that preserving global growth will be difficult in a climate of protectionism, but there is a consensus on the need to reduce trade barriers. All G-20 leaders, including Donald Trump, agree on the need to reform the WTO, he added (so it will probably be in any communique).

Siluanov also called for more resources for the International Monetary Fund and said Russia is ready to raise its share of contributions. At the same time, Russia wants the IMF to play a bigger role in coordinating policy.

Trump Calls Off His News Conference (12:30 p.m.)

President Donald Trump called off his planned news conference at the G-20 “out of respect” for the family of former President George H. W. Bush, who died Friday night at the age of 94. In a tweet on Saturday shortly after noon in Buenos Aires, Trump said that while he had been “very much looking forward” to discussing the summit with reporters, he decided to wait until after the Bush funeral, scheduled for next week, to hold a press conference.

Trump has declared Dec. 5 as a national day of mourning, when U.S. markets by tradition will close to honor Bush. It’s unclear whether any of the other remaining parts of Trump’s schedule in Argentina would change.

Paris Gripped by Protests With Macron at G-20 (12:09 p.m.)

As France’s President Emmanuel Macron meets with his G-20 counterparts in Argentina, the streets back home have erupted in protests over French fuel taxes. Hundreds of demonstrators wearing yellow vests gathered in Paris near the Champs Elysee, and police used tear gas and water cannons as the march turned violent. Authorities arrested 140 protesters, and 65 people, including 11 police officers, were injured, the Associated Press reported. Macron has kept mum on the issue on Saturday in Buenos Aires.

Is a communique better than no communique? (11:15 a.m.)

The wrangling over the G-20 document raises the risk that even if a document is issued, it is rendered largely irrelevant by being so broad, according to Thomas Bernes, a distinguished fellow at Canada’s Centre for International Governance Innovation. “It’s pretty near the end of where you can water it down without saying that it’s lost its meaning." While the G-20’s strength has been to bring countries together, now, Bernes said, multiple wedge issues are emerging -- trade, climate change, migration. If the ‘G’ groupings devolve into gridlock, it "plays into the broader problems we’re having with populism."

Negotiators in Home Stretch on Communique (10:22 a.m.)

Officials from the G-20 nations worked through the night on a formal statement that would be acceptable for their leaders to sign at the summit’s conclusion. The biggest sticking points in assembling a mutually acceptable communique include the language on trade, steel, climate change and migration.

Negotiators are under pressure to produce a statement following the failure to produce a communique at the G-7 in May, as Trump withdrew his support for the document after leaving the summit.

The fears of the G-20’s founding fathers

The two men who help champion what became the G-20 summit want you to know -- it only exists because of crises the West can’t handle on its own. Lawrence Summers, a Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, and then-Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin, believed there was a need for a broader grouping than the G-7 to deal with global economic challenges.

Both express optimism for the summit’s survival -- but it doesn’t mean smooth sailing. “The G-20 is fighting the good fight -- what’s really important now is that it wins some of these battles,” Martin says.

What to Watch on Saturday

  • Trump meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan early Saturday afternoon.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with Erdogan and also with MBS.
  • Leaders are scheduled to issue the G-20 communique in the afternoon, barring a last-minute breakdown.
  • Trump will hold an afternoon news conference following the summit’s conclusion.
  • Trump and Xi will meet for dinner in the early evening local time.

Highlights From the Summit’s First Day

  • Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s presence at the summit was closely scrutinized on the first day, as he sought to make amends with world leaders who have criticized the kingdom over the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
May on Brexit, Macron on Paris, Trudeau on Communique: G-20 Update
  • Ahead of his dinner with Trump, Xi spoke in support of the global rules-based order. Evoking the history of the G-20, he said “we should stay committed to openness and cooperation and uphold the multilateral trading system.”
  • Putin used a sit-down with French President Emmanuel Macron to offer his explanation of Russia’s capture of Ukrainian ships and sailors in the Black Sea a week ago. The Russian leader even pulled out pen and paper for Macron to render a sketch of the skirmish, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
May on Brexit, Macron on Paris, Trudeau on Communique: G-20 Update
  • The U.S., Canada and Mexico signed a new trade deal championed by Trump to replace the quarter-century-old Nafta pact, capping a year of intense negotiations and offering a glimmer of certainty amid rising global tensions over trade.

Best Reads From the Summit

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