The meeting of the G20 nations scheduled to begin at the end of the week has many important matters on its agenda. While this is an opportunity for casual conversation, shared meals, and sideline–bi-lateral–talks, there are a number of significant matters which the 19 nations plus the EU have on their agenda. In general, most countries tend to step lightly on the more delicate issues in public and use the more private moments for the heads of states to engage the more sensitive and controversial matters. Unlike the annual U.N. General Assembly opening meetings where there are a series of major addresses, the G20 meetings are much smaller, more intimate, and, traditionally, consist of relatively few public commentaries.
Since President Trump began to attend these gatherings as well as international conferences in general, these meetings have turned into a game of waiting and see what or whom or how will Trump upset a desired sense of cordiality or conviviality. So too, the meeting in Buenos Aires is likely to become all about whatever the President decides to address and about whomever he opts to embarrass.
The major agenda items include the future of work, increasing development of infrastructure, and the need to increase the availability of food for the future. Other matters which are scheduled to be addressed include the global economic situation, further consideration of world-wide climate change, and the possible regulation of crypto-currencies.
Many among the attendees have very serious domestic and regional issues on their respective plates. They will bring these problems to the table as they seek to engage with their global partners.
1.Russia faces wide focused concern about the most recent attacks in Ukraine and a fear of actual conflict.
- Saudi Arabia is still bristling from its global confrontation, concerning the murder of the Jamal Khashoggi, and is seeking to put this disruption behind it.
- Mexico is facing an intensifying confrontation with the U.S. over immigration. The G20 meeting will occur just as Mexico’s new President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is to be inaugurated on Saturday.
- Angela Merkel is attending this G20 meeting as an announced lame duck prime minister, potentially leaving Europe without its strongest leader. Merkel also finds her Christian Democratic Party losing political power in Germany.
- Britain’s Theresa May appears to have received a supportive vote on her Brexit proposal last weekend from the EU. She is far from out of the woods in maintaining the confidence of the British Parliament or even the leadership of her Tory Party
- South Korea is waiting to see what transpires between Trump and the North Koreans after the splash that occurred in Singapore.
- President Trump arrives having been at least somewhat humbled by his losses in the mid-year election; an intensifying trade war with China; and a Russia election interference investigation which could go public very soon. The most important substantive part of the conference for Trump will probably be his sideline meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping; his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he will be seeing for the first time since their Helsinki meeting; and perhaps other bi-lateral conversations including with the Saudis.
What will happen in Argentina, given previous meetings involving President Trump is unnerving for everyone except Trump, who revels in being unpredictable.