‘Nobody reads the communique’: top G20 moments in Osaka

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French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker attend a meeting on world economy at the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. (AFP)
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US President Donald Trump (R) attends a meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)
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President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (L) talks to US President Donald Trump as they attend a meeting on the digital economy at the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. (AFP / POOL / Jacques Witt)
Updated 30 June 2019

‘Nobody reads the communique’: top G20 moments in Osaka

OSAKA, Japan: From quips and surprise trips, to candid confessions about the final communique, this year’s G20 summit offered surprises as well as relief in the form of a US-China trade truce.
Here are some of the top moments and bon-mots from the two-day meeting hosted by Japan in the city of Osaka:

• It was the summit within a summit: the long-awaited meeting between US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping to thrash out a truce in the trade war between the world’s top two economies.
And when the meeting was over, Trump delivered the news everyone had been waiting for: “We are right back on track,” the US president said after talks he described as “excellent.”
There were precious few details on what the two leaders had agreed, beyond a commitment to resume trade negotiations and hold off on tariffs, offering the world economy some breathing space for now.

• At a summit expected to be dominated by trade, climate change proved an unexpected hot potato, with France’s Emmanuel Macron saying the issue was a “red line” before talks even began.
“My lines don’t have colors,” joked European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who nonetheless agreed that strong action was needed.
Negotiators worked through the night to agree language that mirrored that of the last G20, claiming it as a small victory.
“We avoided going backwards ... but we must go much further,” Macron said after the summit.

• With tensions spiraling in the Gulf, Iran was expected to be a key focus at the summit and bilateral meetings, but it was barely mentioned, with Trump instead stealing the show in a surprise tweet ... on North Korea.
“If Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!” Trump tweeted, inviting Kim Jong Un to meet for a historic handshake at the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean peninsula.
The tweet came before Trump headed to South Korea, and he insisted he would have “no problem” stepping into the North with Kim if invited.

• In person, Trump played nice with world leaders who he has not hesitated to criticize in tweets and interviews, but he appeared most at ease in the company of some of the group’s most controversial members, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The pair smiled and joked about “fake news,” and when Trump was asked if he would tell Putin not to interfere in US elections, he turned to the Russian president with a grin.
“Don’t meddle in the election, president, don’t meddle,” he said, wagging his finger jokingly at the Kremlin strongman.

• Negotiators labored through the night to get agreement on a final communique that warned “most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified,” endorsing language in a hard-won statement from the group’s finance ministers earlier this month.
On climate, they won a deal to repeat the so-called 19+1 formula, with 19 countries endorsing the “irreversibility” of the Paris climate agreement while Washington repeated its plans to withdraw from the accord.
But Juncker made a candid admission even as negotiations were ongoing, saying jet lag had prompted him to break a longstanding tradition of not reading the communique.
“I’m not the only one in this room who does not read the communique. Nobody in fact reads the communique.”


Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

Updated 17 January 2020

Indonesia hails ‘historic’ $22.9bn mega-investment deal with UAE

  • Leaders agree initial $6.8bn projects plan, including initiative to build a replica of Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Java

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s business community on Thursday welcomed the UAE’s pledge to pump tens of billions of dollars into a wide range of key sector projects.

President Joko Widodo and his entourage secured an overall $22.9 billion deal during an official two-day visit to Abu Dhabi earlier this week covering the fields of energy, logistics, port construction, mining, and agriculture.

It was also revealed that the delegation brokered a UAE commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

At a bilateral meeting, the Indonesian leader and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan witnessed the signing of 11 business accords between the two countries. Indonesia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said the UAE had committed to investing $6.8 billion out of the total agreed spending package into the initiatives.

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s chief minister for maritime affairs and investment, described the UAE’s pledges as possibly being “the biggest deals in Indonesia’s history, secured with the UAE within only six months,” referring to the crown prince’s visit to Indonesia last July.

While most lauded the deal, some Indonesian business leaders remained cautious over the long-term prospects for the projects.

Fachry Thaib, head of the Middle East Committee and OIC at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, said the schemes could trigger a wide-ranging domino effect through job creation and other business ventures.

“The government needs to have a strong lobbying team that can follow up these deals and push them into investment realizations. We have had such commitments from other Gulf countries, but there was no further lobbying and the pledges were hardly realized,” he told Arab News.

Zaini Alawi, a businessman who exports and imports between Indonesia and the Middle East, said: “It would set a good precedent to attract other Gulf countries to invest here if Indonesia shows it could aptly manage these investment deals.”

Director for Middle East affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, Achmad Rizal Purnama, told Arab News that the $6.8 billion commitment from the UAE was only the first phase of a long-term program.

Widodo and the crown prince also witnessed the signing of five government cooperation agreements in health, agriculture, Islamic affairs, and counterterrorism.

Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Fachrul Razi said one of the main aspects of the cooperation agreement would be the promotion of religious moderation and raising awareness of the dangers of extremism.

FASTFACT

The UAE has pledged to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund.

Noting that the UAE had pledged to fund the construction of a replica of the Abu Dhabi grand mosque in Solo, the president’s hometown in Java, the minister pointed out that the grant was part of a commitment by the two countries to establish a mosque that welcomed all people and served a pivotal role in promoting the middle path of Islam.

Riza Widyarsa, a Middle East expert at the University of Indonesia, told Arab News that the cooperation deal could help more Indonesians to understand that not all countries in the Middle East observed conservative Islam. “They are also very active in countering religious extremism and radicalism,” he said.

In addition to the multi-billion-dollar projects, Purnama said Indonesia had also secured the UAE’s commitment to assist in establishing an Indonesian sovereign wealth fund into which the UAE, the US International Development Finance Corporation, and Japan’s SoftBank would inject funding.

And according to Pandjaitan, the UAE had pledged to be “the biggest contributor” to the fund.

The fund would be used to finance Indonesia’s ambitious infrastructure development projects and the construction of its proposed new capital in East Kalimantan, a relocation that has been estimated to cost $33 billion and of which Indonesia could only afford 19 percent.

He said all parties involved would meet in Tokyo soon to set up the structure of the fund and to finalize the plan, which the government expected to launch by mid-2020, a year after the crown prince proposed the idea to Widodo.

“This could be the first time that big capitalists work together in a single project,” Pandjaitan added.