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G20 Summit in Buenos Aires: And the Winner is Common Sense

By Denis Bright

Welcome to one of the negotiating triumphs of the century. This Win-Win Outcome fulfils the highest expectations of most G20 countries including Australia’s representatives in Argentina who all played a behind the scenes role in influencing the positive outcomes.

The world’s two superpowers in the US and China have temporarily called a halt to trade war diplomacy:

US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have agreed to halt new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks, the US says. At a post-G20 summit meeting in Buenos Aires, Mr Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on $200bn (£157bn) of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on 1 January.

China will buy a “very substantial” amount of agricultural, industrial and energy products, the US says. Meanwhile, Beijing says the two sides agreed to open up their markets.

It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since a trade war erupted earlier this year.

The dispute broke out after Mr Trump complained China was doing nothing to cut its large surplus in bilateral trade. At the summit in Argentina’s capital earlier on Saturday, the G20 leaders agreed a joint declaration that notes divisions over trade but does not criticise protectionism.

In the Associated Press picture (AP) President Trump’s maintains a statesmanlike poise. Perhaps posterity will fully appreciate the significance of the bilateral negotiations. Other luminaries are not included in this AP pictorial with its focus on President Xi Jinping and President Trump. The Xinhua picture attributed to Li Xueren is objectively a better record of events. However, the AP coverage is better infotainment of this incredible event.

In the AP record, US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, relaxes with some banter on the left side of President Trump. This is an amazing stance for the US War Hawk from Maryland with a long-standing commitment to regime change from Libya to Syria, Iran and North Korea.

Managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, had of course been campaigning for this negotiated outcome for months and dared to take the podium at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on 26 May 2018. This was attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, French President Emmanuel Macron and China’s Vice President Wang Qishan (Bloomberg 26 May 2018).

More conventional leaders would not dare to challenge the direction of President Trump’s impulsive economic diplomacy.

Eyewitness news sources were too busy reporting the latest tensions between Russia and Ukraine to cover important forums like the St. Petersburg Economic Forum or the Far Eastern Forum in Vladivostok in September 2018. These events attracted international visitors like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from the other side of a re-emerging global geopolitical divide. That such divides could be re-imposed in 2018 surely betrays the spirit of 1989 which was about consensus-building and greater freedom for all.

Speaking in St. Petersburg Christine Lagarde offered some prophetic assurances:

“The good news today is that the sun is shining on the global economy. We went through a decade of difficult time, and now, we have an economy that is doing well,” Lagarde said.

Lagarde said her list of worries also include high levels of sovereign and corporate debt and tighter financial conditions in emerging markets from monetary tightening, particularly in the U.S.

The IMF chief has repeatedly warned against the risks of a global trade war amid aggressive steps by President Donald Trump to crack down on what he sees as the unfair trading practices of U.S. competitors. The Trump administration on Wednesday launched a probe to determine if imported cars imperil national security, a move that could lead to higher tariffs, and next week Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be in Beijing for the next round of trade negotiations to ease tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

“It would be a great mistake to resort to protectionism and unilateralism. This would be a self-inflicted wound,” Lagarde said. “Nobody wins a trade war.”

If the goodwill generated at the bilateral talks between China and the US continues, the dark shadows of protectionism can be halted so that global investment multipliers work their magic for humankind in developed and developing countries alike.

The global economic profile of the USA is not being enhanced by the style of financialisation being offered by the Casino Capitalism promoted by President Trump and his Republican predecessors.

Well before the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, IMF staff had crunched the numbers to show that China and other Asian economies had carried the real burden of partial economic recovery from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) a decade ago now:

US efforts to punish emergent countries for their success would offer terrible negative blow-back to countries like Australia as it waited for Casino Capitalism to deliver almost non-existent capital flows for investment in infrastructure and community development for both metropolitan and regional locations.

In the twenty-seven years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, capitalism must move in proactively social market directions away from the old assumptions of Thatcherism. Even Prime Minister Scott Morrison rooted for the changes in Buenos Aires behind the scenes.

Scott Morrison and Matthias Corman arriving in Buenos Aires – 30 November 2018

Australian Prime Minister: I believe that both China and the United States are very keen to see a more open trading environment around the world, and more trade all across the world and particularly between their two nations. We all benefit from that. I think this will be a good opportunity over the course of the next two days to re-assert our commitment to these principles of trade and encourage all of the nations here to get on with that job. Because it’s what drags people out of poverty, it’s what gives people choice in life and that will be our focus, as it always is, at these important events.

This is one occasion when our leaders need bipartisan support without any qualifications. It was a real achievement to be tested in the forthcoming 90 days.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in advancing pragmatic policies compatible with contemporary globalisation.



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  1. New England Cocky

    C’mon Denis ….. this was a set-up as a photo opportunity for Trumpery to boast that he alone had “cured” the economic problem that he started!

    The problem is parasitic capitalism of the USA (United States of Apartheid) sucking the economic opportunities out of all other national states due to over-production of manufactured products that creates “dumping” of surplus production into any and every other world market.

    Meanwhile in Australia Scat Morriscum presides over the creation of the third world future ordained by the Club of Rome about 1979 that puts Australia as the mining pit of Europe with all natural resources recovered and untaxed by foreign owned multinational corporations.

  2. Mia

    Definitely more utopianism for peace and development.

  3. Leila

    Denis a timely article, it may appear to be a success, but not sure about that with someone like Trump, hard to believe anything he says
    Morrison’s opportunity on the world stage will be short lived hope he enjoyed it

  4. Pat

    Better later than never to halt the trade wars!

  5. Tessa_M

    Great news story from the G20 even through Argentina is in the midst of a recession under a neoliberal government.

  6. James_Robo

    Eva Peron lives on in the spirit of this G20 in Argentina. Have you changed the mind-set of our Global Commander in Chief Trump?

  7. Denis Bright

    Thanks New England Cocky. The AP photograph used from the bilateral meeting was highly posed. It deleted some participants in the foreground.

    Photographer, Li Xueren (Xinhua), has a good after dinner close up of Xi and Trump (http://en.people.cn/n3/2018/1203/c90000-9524437.html).

    Photograph can mislead and neither of us were at the event.

    President Trump can perform well at bilateral events as captured by Li Xueren. He seemed to grasp the significance of the bilateral event which lasted for 2.5 hours into the late hours of 1 December 2018 (Argentinian time).

    “In a White House press release, Trump was quoted as saying that this was an amazing and productive meeting with unlimited possibilities for both the United States and China.

    ‘It is my great honor to be working with President Xi,’ Trump said.

    In a White House press release, Trump was quoted as saying that this was an amazing and productive meeting with unlimited possibilities for both the United States and China ”

    I am still delighted with the bilateral meeting and with Australia’s spark of independence.

  8. Mia

    Let’s be satisfied with a little progress at the G20.
    Thanks for the coverage Denis.

  9. Stella

    Denis, thanks for your coverage of the G20 summit. It looks like a step in the right direction for China and the US. Imposing trade tariffs will not provide any advantage to nations.

  10. Paul

    Excellent article Denis!

    Nice to hear some optimism for the global economy as we close out the year.

    Good to see that collaboration can work! Fingers crossed for the next 90 days.

    Thanks for your brilliant articles throughout the year!

  11. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    I am no apologist for The Donald as you call him, Kronomex. US leadership globally has been eroded since the defeat of Barack Obama.

    These are dangerous times with volatility on global market affecting our superannuation balances and eccentric foreign policies like a proposed US withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Weapons Treaty with Russia threatening global peace.

    Even the far-right government of Australia is reappraising its options as shown by our implied criticism of President Trump’s trade war agendas at the G20.

    The New York Stock Exchange is closed today as a mark of respect for President George Hoover Bush so there will be a day’s pause on the trends in market volatility.

    The current uncertainties might make it easier for an incoming Labor Government to act more independently away from the Donald’s Shirt Tails. Well said, Kronomex.

    But that’s why the G20 Summit was significant. Perhaps Australians are waking up to the consequence of over-dependency on President Trump for guidance to the Deputy Sheriff Down Under, be it Scott Morrison today, or Bill Shorten next year.

  12. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    US Leadership Trump Tweets 5 December 2018: The New Duterte?

    One of the very exciting things to come out of my meeting with President Xi of China is his promise to me to criminalize the sale of deadly Fentanyl coming into the United States. It will now be considered a “controlled substance.” This could be a game changer on what is…………considered to be the worst and most dangerous, addictive and deadly substance of them all. Last year over 77,000 people died from Fentanyl. If China cracks down on this “horror drug,” using the Death Penalty for distributors and pushers, the results will be incredible!

  13. Kronomex

    Denis, I wasn’t having a go at you. Perhaps I should have been a little more careful when I wrote it. I was commenting on the news article about The Donald being sycophanted as a wonderful leader who only wants peace and understanding and everyone living side by side in harmony on a piano keyboard.

    Apologies for the error.

  14. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Thanks Kronomex. Our Australian Labor leaders are too quiet about the antics of Donald Trump who is very disliked as a global leader here and beyond.

    Trump’s trade wars are negatively affecting the Australian economy with its strong links to China and other Asian countries. Normally Scott Morrison would have reflexively supported Donald Trump at the G20 but this time every member of G20 wanted a halt to the America First approach. Trump eventually offered a 90 day end to hostilities which probably won’t last.

    Wall Street Markets have taken another battering as trading is about to close for Friday 7 December. This volatility will probably be translated into Australian superannuation balances next week and our markets on Monday. New York is 17 hours behind Sydney-time during the summer months here and Los Angeles 20 hours behind.

    Meanwhile the LNP wants us to focus on the cost of electricity from clapped out privatized power stations, largely fuelled by coal rather than the really important fundamentals.

    Rental costs are a much more important variable for small businesses particularly in corporate shopping centres. There is a temptation to employ casual staff on below acceptable rates of pay as a reprisal while most workers are non-unionzed and in need of casual jobs.

  15. Jay-Jay

    B J Thomas reached out to the world with his 1968 hit “Hooked on a Feeling”. Our relationships with President Trump cannot be compulsively positive when his administration is leading Australia in such terrible directions of market volatility and a drift to war.

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