G20 Summit declaration: multilateral trading system ‘falling short’ and needs fixing

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Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and the G20 leaders attend the plenary session at the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 1, 2018. (REUTERS /G20 handout)
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands prior their talks at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Dec. 1, 2018. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump attend the plenary session at the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires on Dec. 1, 2018. (G20 Argentina/Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 02 December 2018

G20 Summit declaration: multilateral trading system ‘falling short’ and needs fixing

  • Summit declaration stopped short of agreement on the two biggest challenges facing the G20: The future of world trade and climate change
  • US President Donald Trump has taken a stance not shared by most of the other leaders

BUENOS AIRES: The G20 Summit of leaders of the world’s most powerful nations ended in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, with a consensus for “fair and sustainable development through an agenda that is people-centred, inclusive and forward-looking.”

The official leaders’ declaration stressed their common goals in the future of work, infrastructure for development, a sustainable food future and a gender-mainstreaming strategy.

“We have addressed our agenda promoting dialogue and the search for common ground. Building consensus requires the commitment of the society as a whole,” the declaration read.

But it stopped short of agreement on the two biggest challenges facing the G20: The future of world trade and climate change. 

On these issues, US President Donald Trump has taken a stance not shared by most of the other leaders.

The declaration struck a neutral formula on trade, reading: “We welcome the strong global economic growth while recognizing it has been increasingly less synchronized between countries and some of the key risks, including financial vulnerabilities and geopolitical concerns, have partially materialized. We also note current trade issues.”

The declaration sought to reconcile the US position with the majority opinion. “International trade and investment are important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development,” it said. “We recognize the contribution that the multilateral trading system has made to that end. The system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement,” the declaration added, calling for further reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

On climate, the leaders said: “A strong economy and a healthy planet are mutually reinforcing… We recognize the importance of comprehensive adaptation strategies, including investment in infrastructure that is resilient to extreme weather events and disasters.”

They declared the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which most countries in the world have signed, to be “irreversible.” 

The declaration thanked Argentina for hosting the G20, and the leaders said they look forward to the next scheduled meetings, in Japan next year and Saudi Arabia in 2020.

The Kingdom played a full role in the Buenos Aires summit, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting world leaders of the UK, China, Indonesia and South Africa, among others. 

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jaadan took part in the G20 Investor Forum, organized by the World Bank and held on the sidelines of the main event with a view to promoting long-term sustainable investments.

 


Sanders attacked for past praise of communist regimes

Updated 26 February 2020

Sanders attacked for past praise of communist regimes

  • Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg all seized on visits Sanders made to the USSR, the Sandinista-controlled Nicaragua and Fidel Castro’s Cuba in the 1980s
  • Joe Biden: He (Sanders) seems to have found more inspiration in the Soviets, Sandinistas, Chavistas, and Castro than in America

WASHINGTON: Bernie Sanders’ past praise of communist regimes like Cuba and the Soviet Union has come back to haunt him, his rivals for the Democratic White House nomination seeking to paint the frontrunner as a friend of left-wing dictators.
Fellow Democratic hopefuls Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg all seized on visits Sanders made to the USSR, the Sandinista-controlled Nicaragua and Fidel Castro’s Cuba in the 1980s as evidence he is a threat to the US democratic and capitalist system.
Sanders, who describes himself as a “democratic socialist,” was pressed on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday about positive comments he made three decades ago about communist states, particularly his statement that Castro had vastly improved education and health care in Cuba.
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” the 78-year-old politician said.
“When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?“
Biden, who Sanders has edged out as the 2020 Democratic frontrunner, fired back:
“Make no mistake: Bernie Sanders’ comments on Fidel Castro are a part of a larger pattern throughout his life to embrace autocratic leaders and governments across the globe,” the centrist former vice president said in a statement.
“He seems to have found more inspiration in the Soviets, Sandinistas, Chavistas, and Castro than in America.”
Buttigieg compared Sanders to President Donald Trump who he said has “cozied up to dictators,” adding the country needs a leader “who will be extremely clear in standing against regimes that violate human rights abroad.”
With Sanders in pole position heading into South Carolina’s primary this weekend, the controversy offers his rivals a precious chance to halt his momentum when they clash on the debate stage later on Tuesday.
Sanders’ alignment with the far left in US politics has always left him vulnerable to attack; Trump and other Republicans have branded him a “communist.”
But his Cuba comments have come to the forefront in the fight for voter support in Florida, home to a large Cuban-American population strongly opposed to Castro’s regime and holding substantial political sway in the southern state.
Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, targeted that electorate as he tweeted that Castro “left a dark legacy of forced labor camps, religious repression, widespread poverty, firing squads, and the murder of thousands of his own people.”
“But sure, Bernie, let’s talk about his literacy program,” Bloomberg said.
Sanders’ denies any support for dictators. Critics say his record suggests otherwise.
As mayor of the small city of Burlington, Vermont, he visited Nicaragua in 1985 and afterward hailed Daniel Ortega’s revolution against the Central American country’s landowner elite.
That was a view commonly held among the American left, especially as the administration of Ronald Reagan supported the right-wing Nicaraguan Contra fighters accused of numerous terror-like atrocities.
In 1988 Sanders visited Russia seeking to establish a sister-city pact with Yaroslavl, northeast of Moscow.
It was hardly unique: there were several dozen US-USSR sister city relationships at the time, according to Sister Cities International.
Upon his return, Sanders applauded Russian gains in health care, while adding they were 10 years behind the United States.
He said his hosts were friendly and spoke honestly about problems, especially in housing and struggling industries.
He offered no praise of the government and communist system, and noted Russians very much liked Reagan, who had just days earlier held a summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which Sanders called “a major step forward for humanity.”
Likewise after visiting Cuba in 1989, Sanders praised its achievements in education and health care, calling Castro’s revolution “profound,” but also noting the lack of political freedoms.
“The question is how you bring both economic and political freedom together in one society,” he said at the time, according to the Rutland Daily Herald.
Sanders’ position echoes that of president Barack Obama, who reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, with Biden as his vice president.
Obama said on a landmark 2016 Havana visit that the government “should be congratulated” for its achievements in education and health care — while criticizing its human rights violations and communist-rooted economy which he said was “not working.”
Sanders told “60 Minutes” that his support for certain achievements in communist countries did not make him a friend of repressive leaders.
“I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator,” he said, referring to Trump’s friendship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Whether that carries with Cuban voters in Florida remains an open question.