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.

 


Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

Updated 14 November 2019

Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

  • At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks
  • More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding
MOGADISHU, Somalia: Ahmed Sabrie woke up to find his house half-submerged in fast-rising flood waters.

Frightened and confused, he herded his sleepy family members onto the roof of their home in central Somalia as scores of thousands of people in the town, Beledweyne, scrambled for their lives. Clinging to an electric power pylon by the edge of their roof, the family watched as their possessions were washed away.

“I could hear people, perhaps my neighbors, screaming for help but I could only fight for the survival of my family,” the 38-year-old Sabrie, the father of four, recalled.

As one of his children, unfed, wailed the family waited for more than 10 hours before a passing rescue boat spotted them.

Authorities have not yet said how many people died in the Somalia flooding last month, the country’s worst in recent history and the latest reminder that the Horn of Africa nation must prepare for the extremes expected to come with a changing climate.

At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks. Local officials have said at least 22 people in all are presumed dead and that toll could rise.

“This is a catastrophic situation,” Mayor Safiyo Sheikh Ali said. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who visited the town and waded through submerged areas, called the devastation “beyond our capacity” and pleaded for more help from aid groups.

With no proper emergency response plan for natural disasters, local rescuers used rickety wooden dhows to reach trapped people while helicopters provided by the United Nations plucked people from rooftops. African Union and Somali forces have joined the rescue operations and the Somali government airlifted food.

“Many people are still trapped in their submerged houses and we have no capacity and enough equipment to cover all areas,” said Abdirashakur Ahmed, a local official helping to coordinate rescue operations. Hundreds are thought to still be stuck.

With more heavy rains and flash flooding expected, officials warned thousands of displaced people against returning too quickly to their homes.

More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Beledweyne town was the worst affected. Several thousand people were sheltering under trees or in tents.

“Floods have destroyed more than three-quarters of Beledweyne and submerged many surrounding villages,” said Victor Moses, the NRC’s country director.

Aid groups said farms, infrastructure and roads in some areas were destroyed. The destruction of farmland near rivers is expected to contribute to a hunger crisis.

The possibility of further damage from heavy rains in the coming days remains a concern, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Parts of the Lower Juba, Gedo and Bay regions, where IOM has supported displaced populations for years, have been affected. Many displaced people were stranded without food, latrines or shelter.

“In Baidoa, people have moved to high ground where they are in immediate need of support,” said Nasir Arush, the minister for humanitarian and disaster management for South West State.

Survivors like Sabrie now must struggle to rebuild their lives.

“We’re alive, which I am thankful to Allah for, but this flood disaster wreaked havoc on both our livelihoods and households so I see a tough road ahead of us,” he said from a makeshift shelter built on higher ground outside town.