BUENOS AIRES – World leaders will meet from Friday in Buenos Aires at a global crossroads marked by trade tensions between the United States and powers such as China and the European Union and by crucial diplomatic clashes between Russia and Ukraine.
Most heads of state and government of the G20 member states – the 20 most developed and emerging economies – as well as invited countries and representatives of organizations such as the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – arrived in the Argentine capital late Thursday.
With Argentina as host, which has already seen some 80 technical and ministerial meetings throughout the year, the summit, which will take place at the Costa Salguero convention center, will have difficulties reaching consensus, especially on thorny issues such as the defense of free trade and policies against climate change.
“We are about to start this marathon that will last almost 4 days. Receiving the world’s most important leaders, all together at the same time and in the same place, something that never happened in our country,” said Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who already held a long list of bilateral meetings.
Argentina’s challenge is to ensure that those attending the meeting, including US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron can reach agreements on at least the three priorities set for this year by Argentina’s chairmanship of the group: the future of work, infrastructure for development and the future of sustainable food supply.
With the multiple bilateral meetings planned, the challenge will be how the meeting between Trump and Xi, which seeks to end the trade war and the US tariff policy, can affect the common mood and the final declaration.
In the last hours, another of the most eagerly awaited meetings, the one of the US president with Putin, was cancelled after the tycoon backed down for disagreeing with Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea.
What is still expected to eventuate is the trilateral meeting between Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who will hand over the post to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Saturday, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign the trade agreement known as T-MEC, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The official program of the summit – which Argentina seeks to end on Saturday with a final document focusing on equitable and sustainable development – will begin at 10:00 am local time (1300 GMT) with the arrival of the leaders at the Costa Salguero convention center, located on the banks of the River Plate.
The intense security measures established by Argentina – more than 22,000 federal agents – plus all the security that the leaders bring with them, have left, progressively, a besieged city, with the main avenues near to the meeting place cut off and most of the public services suspended.