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‘It was really a resounding success’: White House touts G20 victory, citing agreement to reform WTO

President Donald Trump’s administration is touting the G20 summit as a ‘resounding success’ after the member nations agreed to reform the World Trade Organization in its official communique.

‘I think across the board it was really a resounding success,’ a White House official said on Saturday.

‘For the first time ever, the G-20 recognized the WTO is currently falling short of meeting its objectives and that it’s in need of reform,’ the official said. 

President Donald Trump’s administration is touting the G20 summit as a ‘resounding success’

World leaders signed on to an official communique at the end of Saturday's session

World leaders signed on to an official communique at the end of Saturday’s session

It was also one of the few items left on the agenda as Trump shifted his summit schedule yet again on Saturday.

The president canceled a press conference for Saturday, citing the death of former President George W. Bush as the reason, and moved up his dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping by hour.

Even before he arrived in Buenos Aires, Trump down graded his time at the G20, canceling a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin – citing Russian aggression toward the Ukraine – and down grading two meetings with U.S. allies to ‘pull asides’ – a diplomatic term for an more informal gathering.

But trade was one of President Trump’s top priorities here although administration’s lauding comes before a crucial dinner with the Chinese president where trade will be the top topic.

Trump has blamed WTO policies for letting Beijing get a leg up on America in trading. 

The multilateral trading system is ‘falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement,’ the official communique reads. 

But International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde issued a stern warning Saturday that trade tensions are threatening world economic growth. 

‘Pressures on emerging markets have been rising and trade tensions have begun to have a negative impact,’ she said.

Trump also used the summit to show off his last trade deal – the signing of a pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

But that even was almost upstaged by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who didn’t announce he was coming until late the night before, and used the occasion to berate the president over his steel tariffs. 

G20 leaders posing for their 'family photo' on Friday

G20 leaders posing for their ‘family photo’ on Friday

Trade was one of the president's biggest priorities at the summit

Trade was one of the president’s biggest priorities at the summit

He also ignored a presidential urging when the time came to put pen to paper. 

After Trump, Trudeau, and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto each signed their copy of the agreement, Trump held his up and said: ‘We might as well hold that up.’

Nieto did so. Trudeau did not but sat there smiling for the clicking cameras.

For all the touting of success, the U.S. opted out of one part of the G20 communique – the official document signed at the end of the meeting.

It is not legally enforceable but an agreement of policy. 

While the other 19 nations agreed to support the Paris agreement on fighting climate change, the United States reaffirmed its position to withdraw from that accord.

‘The U.S. position on the Paris agreement was well-known. So, there really wasn’t any disputing that the U.S. was going to recognize it’s position,’ the White House official said. 

‘But what was interesting is that this was one of the last issues to close because the countries who typically might agree couldn’t agree with each other. What you’re starting to see is you’re seeing a little bit of the coalition fraying. Countries like Turkey, like Saudi Arabia, like Russia might be second-guessing some of that,’ the person added.    

In his closing remarks, Argentine President Mauricio Macri said the G20 countries had overcome ‘a number of challenges’ in agreeing to the communique.

‘We have agreed on a statement that reflects the necessity of revitalizing trade, of revitalizing the WTO,’ he said. 

The next G-20 summit will be held in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019.



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