NAGOYA, Japan – G20 foreign ministers are to meet in Nagoya on Saturday in a bid to send a message in favor of free trade and multilateralism amid a period of global tensions.
Diplomatic chiefs from the 20 most industrialized and emerging countries in the world will tackle an agenda focused on long-term initiatives, such as the reform of the World Trade Organization and achieving UN sustainable development goals.
The meeting in Nagoya will bring Japan’s rotating presidency to an end.
The Japanese government hopes to be able to smoothly pass the baton over to Saudi Arabia – the country to next hold the rotating presidency – and leave behind a difficult year for the group owing to commercial spars and disagreements among its members, government sources said.
Tokyo hopes the ministerial meeting will see the reaffirmation of the main commitments reached at the G20 summit held in Osaka last June, according to sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
No joint declaration was expected to be approved, the same sources said.
The ministers will discuss “challenges” arising from trade friction and geopolitical risks, in addition to the negative impact of both factors on the global economy.
The Osaka summit tested the foundations of the G20 by exposing irreconcilable differences between its members – especially between the United States and the others – when it comes to curbing protectionism and combating climate change.
That meeting even opened a debate on the viability of the G20 in its current format.
Japan will strive once again to extol topics where there is a consensus, like reforming the WTO or pushing for progress on the so-called digital tax on technology multinationals, according to the same sources.
The presence of US Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan, and Chinese Prime Minister, Wang Yi, at the event could ease negotiations between the two world powers, though a bilateral meeting is not on the agenda.
Other issues, including Turkey’s offensive in Syria, the ongoing protest movement in Hong Kong and the state of dialog with North Korea on its denuclearization could also come up in the forum.
For Japan, the Nagoya meeting could also see the filing of sharp edges with South Korea, a country with which it is embroiled in a diplomatic and commercial bind.
Seoul has not officially confirmed the attendance of any government representatives, but South Korean media outlets have been reporting on a trip to Nagoya by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, which, if confirmed, could participate in a bilateral meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi.
Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie and acting Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell and Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Ribera, the latter two as representatives of G20 guest countries, are expected to attend the ministerial meeting.
The meeting will consist of three working sessions on Saturday at the Kanko hotel, to be preceded by a dinner on Friday at a restaurant in Nagoya.
The agenda includes talks about progress on sustainable development goals, a series of goals set by the United Nations in 2015 for 2030 across a range of issues like poverty, health, gender equality, environmental protection, access to education and energy.
Those attending are also set to discuss improving development aid in Africa.
Nagoya city center has been closed to traffic and about 8,500 security agents have been deployed – including at Chofu airport, where many of the foreign dignitaries will arrive.