BUENOS AIRES: The Argentine capital began to go into security lockdown on Wednesday as leaders of the world’s biggest economies started to arrive for the G20 summit starting on Friday.
The two-day summit brings together the most important statesmen in the world, including US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for top-level policy meetings and negotiations.
Finance ministers and “sherpas,” the government officials whose job it is to steer negotiations toward some kind of agreement, have been in Buenos Aires since the start of the week.
Certain to be on their minds — although it is not mentioned formally on the summit agenda — is the looming prospect of a global trade war between the US and China. This is expected be discussed at a dinner on Friday evening between Trump and Xi.
The official mission statement is “Building consensus for fair and sustainable development” in areas such as the future of work, infrastructure, food and gender. If all goes to plan, there will be a joint communiqué of agreement announced on Saturday.
It is the first time a G20 meeting has been held in Latin America (Saudi Arabia is set to host it in 2020), and Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri is taking the opportunity to showcase the reforms that he has introduced in the past two years but which have run into economic problems recently.
The summit has regularly been the focus of organized protests, which have sometimes tuned violent, and Argentina is taking special measures to ensure a peaceful meeting.
Traffic was already being restricted in large areas of Buenos Aires Wednesday, with access limited to the Costa Salguero Center, the business and leisure area where the main summit meetings will be held.
There is also an extensive program of cultural and artistic activities planned to coincide with the event, with wives and partners of many of the leaders hosting events throughout the city.
By Friday, large parts of Buenos Aires will be closed to normal traffic. Much of the public transport network will be closed temporarily, and citizens have been given an extra public holiday on the opening day. They have been advised by the authorities to take a long weekend outside the city for the duration of the event.