Although the G20 summit is often regarded as just an annual photo opportunity for the world leaders with fruitless outcomes, the agenda on some leader’s minds this year has on the contrary, the potential to gravely disrupt and move markets.
United States (US) President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping are expected to meet on the side lines of the upcoming G20 summit at Bueno Aires, Argentina, where world leaders will convene on Friday and Saturday. The setting will take place in a highly anticipated dinner on Saturday and observers are hoping for the leaders to strike a deal over their ongoing trade spat.
The US has hit a total US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods with tariffs since July, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on US$110 billion of US goods.
The G20 summit dinner is seen by some as the possible pivotal breakthrough point between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies, and could reveal answers as to whether the trade war can be stopped or put on hold.
Will talks really see a breakthrough? Unlikely so says experts
Just days before the G20 summit, President Trump said the current tariff levels on US$200 billion of Chinese imports would rise as planned.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Mr Trump repeated his threat to slap tariffs on all remaining imports from China, adding that “the only deal would be (that) China has to open up their country to competition from the US.”
"If we don't make a deal, then I'm going to put the US$267 billion additional (tariffs) on," at a tariff rate of either 10% or 25%, Mr Trump threatened further, adding that the next round of tariffs could be on goods which are not yet hit by tariffs, such as laptops and Apple iPhones imported from China.
Moments before leaving for Argentina on Thursday, Mr Trump told reporters at the White House that while China was interested in striking a deal, "I don't know if I want to do it" and "I like the deal we have now".
Most experts think that it is unlikely for US and China to have a trade war ceasefire over dinner and do not expect much from the G20 meeting.
Capital Economics Julian Evans-Pritchard said the most likely scenario is that Mr Xi doesn't offer big enough concessions to Mr Trump, and “so nothing much comes of the G20 meeting."
“Both sides are trying to manage expectations, because it is unlikely that something dramatically successful will take place,” added Mr Willie Lam, Adjunct Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
China’s state-run China Daily newspaper said in an editorial: “Beijing wants a deal, just as Washington does. And it is willing to cooperate with Washington in dealing with concerns about trade if they are fair-minded."
"Should there be any other aspirations, such as taking advantage of the trade spat to throttle Chinese growth, then an agreement is unlikely to be reached," the paper said.