Asia-Pacific

Abe's G20 eclipsed by US-China trade truce

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping's sideline trade talks eclipsed the G20. (AAP)

The G20 summit meeting in Osaka has wrapped, as on the sidelines US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed to restart trade talks.

The Group of 20 summit meeting in Osaka wrapped up Saturday with President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreeing on the sidelines to restart talks on the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

As expected, the summit's host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, declared the gathering a success.

"The G-20 nations, as the countries that lead the world economy, have a responsibility to squarely face global problems and to come up with solutions through frank dialogue," Abe said in concluding the meeting.

"Now, with this 'Osaka Declaration,' we should try to tenaciously find, not the differences, but common ground among us, and, we hope, to continue our effort to sustain global economic growth," he said.

But even as he ended his remarks, the Osaka Declaration had yet to be released online as promised.

The day's agenda kicked off with a brief meeting on promoting the economic empowerment of women, one of Abe's missions since he took office in late 2012. The leaders then began talks on other priorities, including the pressing issue of committing to faster progress in countering climate change.

"In our view, climate change will determine the destiny of mankind, so it is imperative that our generation makes the right choices," Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, said in a news conference with his French counterpart and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The G-20 leaders have long sought to present a united front in promoting open markets and calling for smart policies to fend off threats to global economic growth. But the schisms over such issues as protectionism and migration are straining efforts to forge the usual consensus on a broad array of policy approaches and geopolitical issues.

Using Twitter, Trump caused a stir Saturday when he invited North Korea's Kim to shake hands during a visit the US president planned to make to the heavily armed Demilitarised Zone between the Koreas on Sunday. "If Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!"

"All I did is put out a feeler if you'd like to meet," Trump said later of the invitation, adding that he's not sure of Kim's whereabouts.

North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui responded by saying it was a "very interesting suggestion," and the meeting, if realised, would serve as "another meaningful occasion in further deepening the personal relations between the two leaders and advancing the bilateral relations."

She said that North Korea still hasn't received an official proposal for the meeting from the United States.

Trump has at times found himself at odds with other leaders in such international events, particularly on issues such as Iran, climate change and trade.

China has sought support for defending global trade agreements against Trump's "America First" stance in gatherings like the G-20.

The highlight of Trump's visit to Osaka was a meeting Saturday with Xi that has raised hopes the world's two largest economies might resume talks over their festering dispute over technology and China's chronic trade surplus.

As they began their meeting, Xi spoke of the "ping-pong diplomacy" that helped launch normalisation of relations with Beijing. In the 40 years since the two countries restored ties, he said, "one basic fact remains unchanged. China and the US both benefit from cooperation and lose in confrontation."

Trump told Xi he wants to "even it up in respect to trade," and that he thought it would be very easy to do.

Afterward, Trump said the talks were "back on track."

China's official Xinhua News Agency said Xi and Trump had agreed to restart trade talks "on the basis of equality and mutual respect" and that the US side agreed not to add new tariffs on Chinese exports.

The meeting had raised hopes for reviving negotiations that stalled in May. It's unclear, however, if they have overcome the obstacles that brought the talks to a halt earlier.

The two sides have levied billions of dollars' worth of tariffs on each other's products.

Holding the summit in Osaka allowed Abe to perhaps raise his popularity among constituents in this manufacturing hub ahead of an election for the upper house of parliament in July. Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has suffered several setbacks in by-elections and his long tenure as prime minister is raising questions about who will succeed him.

Abe sought to make the Osaka summit a landmark for progress on environmental issues, including tackling the global problem of plastic waste, recommitting to efforts to counter climate change, and making progress in developing new rules for the "digital economy," such as devising fair ways to tax companies like Google and Facebook. Officials also were discussing how to strengthen precautions against abuse of technologies such as cybercurrencies to fund terrorism and other types of internet-related crimes.

But while he upstaged his host, Trump did make a point of attending meetings like one early Saturday on women's empowerment, where his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump spoke.

She and others noted that the world economy would get a boost of up to $28 trillion by 2025 if women were on an equal economic footing and described improving the status of women as "smart economic and defence policy."

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch