Buenos Aires. Chinese President Xi Jinping and the leaders of major developing economies condemned protectionism at a G20 summit in Argentina on Friday overshadowed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to escalate tariffs on China.
This year’s two-day gathering is a major test for the Group of 20 industrialized nations, whose leaders first met in 2008 to help rescue the global economy from the worst financial crisis in seven decades.
With a rise in nationalist sentiment in many countries, the G20 – which accounts for two-thirds of the world population – faces questions over its ability to deal with trade tensions, which have roiled global markets.
Hanging over the summit in Buenos Aires is the trade dispute between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, which have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of each other’s imports after Trump launched an effort to correct what he views as China’s unfair commercial practices.
Global financial markets will take their lead next week from the outcome of talks between Trump and Xi over dinner on Saturday, aimed at resolving differences that are weighing on global economic growth.
Xi and other leaders from the BRICS group of leading emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – issued a statement calling for open international trade and a strengthening of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“The spirit and rules of the WTO run counter to unilateral and protectionist measures,” they said. “We call on all members to oppose such WTO-inconsistent measures, stand by their commitments undertaken in the WTO.”
Beijing hopes to persuade Trump to abandon plans to increase tariffs on $200 billion (156.8 billion pounds) of Chinese goods to 25 percent in January, from 10 percent at present.
U.S. stocks closed higher on Friday on hopes that a deal could be reached.
Trump said there had been some positive signs.
“We’re working very hard. If we could make a deal that would be good. I think they want to. I think we’d like to. We’ll see,” he said.
A Chinese foreign ministry official in Buenos Aires said there were signs of increasing consensus ahead of the discussions, although differences remained.