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.


Filipino rebel chiefs become officials under peace deal

President Rodrigo Duterte, political leaders and officials flash the peace sign following Friday’s oath-taking ceremony in Manila. (AP)
Updated 46 min 7 sec ago

Filipino rebel chiefs become officials under peace deal

  • It is a very difficult and challenging process, says MILF spokesman

MANILA: Some of the fiercest Muslim rebel commanders in the southern Philippines were sworn in Friday as administrators of a new Muslim autonomous region in a delicate milestone to settle one of Asia’s longest-raging rebellions.

President Rodrigo Duterte led a ceremony to name Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Murad Ebrahim and some of his top commanders as among 80 administrators of a transition government for the five-province region called Bangsamoro.

About 12,000 combatants with thousands of firearms are to be demobilized starting this year under the peace deal.  Thousands of other guerrillas would disarm if agreements under the deal would be followed, including providing the insurgents with livelihood to help them return to normal life.

“We would like to see an end of the violence,” Duterte said. 

“After all, we go to war and shoot each other counting our victories not by the progress or development of the place but by the dead bodies that were strewn around during the violent years.”

About 150,000 people have died in the conflict over several decades and stunted development in the resource-rich region. 

Duterte promised adequate resources, a daunting problem in the past.

The Philippine and Western governments and the guerrillas see an effective Muslim autonomy as an antidote to nearly half a century of secessionist violence, which Daesh could exploit to gain a foothold.

“The dream that we have fought for is now happening and there’s no more reason for us to carry our guns and continue the war,” rebel forces spokesman Von Al-Haq said in an interview ahead of the ceremony.

Several commanders long wanted for deadly attacks were given safety passes to be able to travel to Manila and join the ceremony, including Abdullah Macapaar, who uses the nom de guerre Commander Bravo, Al-Haq said. 

Known for his fiery rhetoric while wearing his camouflage uniform and brandishing his assault rifle and grenades, Macapaar will be one of the 41 regional administrators from the rebel front.

Duterte will pick his representatives to fill the rest of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, which will also act as a regional Parliament with Murad as the chief minister until regular officials are elected in 2022.

Members of the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a 1996 autonomy deal that has largely been seen as a failure, will also be given seats in the autonomous government.

Disgruntled fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front broke off and formed new armed groups, including the notorious Abu Sayyaf, which turned to terrorism and banditry after losing its commanders early in battle. 

The Abu Sayyaf has been blacklisted by the US as a terrorist organization and has been suspected of staging a suspected Jan. 27 suicide bombing that killed 23 mostly churchgoers in a Roman Catholic cathedral on southern Jolo island.

“We have already seen the pitfalls,” Al-Haq said, acknowledging that the violence would not stop overnight because of the presence of the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups, some linked to Daesh. 

“It’s a very difficult and challenging process.”