With the United States and China locked in growing disputes over commerce and security that have raised questions about the future of their relationship, Trump and Xi are due to sit down for dinner at the end of a two-day gathering of world leaders in Buenos Aires.
The first day of the G20 summit offered glimmers of hope for progress between Washington and Beijing despite Trump’s earlier threat of new tariffs, which would increase tensions already weighing on global financial markets.
But on the eve of what is seen as the most important meeting of U.S. and Chinese leaders in years, both sides said differences remained, and the outcome of the talks were uncertain.
This year’s summit has proved to be a major test for the Group of 20 industrialized nations, whose leaders first met in 2008 to help rescue the global economy from the worst financial crisis in seven decades.
With a rise in nationalist sentiment in many countries, the G20, which accounts for two-thirds of the global population, faces doubts over its ability to deal with trade tensions and other geopolitical differences among.
G20 nations were still struggling to agree on the wording for the summit’s communique on major issues including trade, migration and climate change, which in past years have been worked out well in advance.
Looming large at the summit is the trade fight between the United States and China, which have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars on each other’s imports after Trump began an effort to correct what he views as China’s unfair commercial practices.
With the trade war weighing on the global economy, world financial markets are hanging on every development and will be watching closely to see if any compromise can be struck between Trump and Xi. The meeting will also be a test of the personal chemistry between the two leaders, which Trump has hailed as a warm friendship.
Another big unknown, however, may be Trump’s personal unpredictability and his penchant for injecting drama into his appearances on the world stage.