BUENOS AIRES • Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders of major developing economies on Friday condemned protectionism at a G-20 summit in Argentina which was overshadowed by US 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 industrialised 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 G-20 - 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, which have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of each other's imports after Mr Trump launched an effort to correct what he views as China's unfair commercial practices.
Global financial markets will take their lead this week from the outcome of talks between Mr Trump and Mr Xi over dinner yesterday, aimed at resolving differences that are weighing on global economic growth.
Mr 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 strengthening of the World Trade Organisation. "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 Mr Trump to abandon plans to increase tariffs on US$200 billion (S$274 billion) of Chinese goods to 25 per cent in January, from 10 per cent at present. US stocks closed higher on Friday on hopes that a deal could be reached.
CALL AGAINST PROTECTIONISM
The spirit and rules of the WTO run counter to unilateral and protectionist measures. We call on all members to oppose such WTO-inconsistent measures, stand by their commitments undertaken in the WTO.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders from the Brics group of leading emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, in a statement calling for open international trade and strengthening of WTO.
Mr Trump said there were 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."
A Chinese foreign ministry official in Buenos Aires said there were signs of increasing consensus ahead of the discussions, although differences remained.
Meanwhile, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported Mr Xi as assuring Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that China firmly supports Riyadh in its drive for economic diversification and social reform.
The Saudi press agency reported early yesterday that the crown prince and Mr Xi discussed partnership between the two countries and harmonising Saudi Arabia's 2030 vision with China's Belt and Road Initiative, as well as Saudi energy supplies to China and mutual investment.