It is Friday, and that means it is panel time! Starting with the G20 Summit: 19 leaders of the world's biggest economies and a representative of the European Union are meeting today and Saturday in Buenos Aries, Argentina, as part of the Group of 20, or G20, summit. US President Donald Trump, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on trade this morning at the G20. Most analysts say that Trump's new pact is more sizzle than steak, more hyperbole than reality. It's a reasonable update of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), not a model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever. Despite Trump's use of the new USMCA tag, the Canadian prime minister referred to the deal as the "new North American Free Trade Agreement." He also said that the USMCA deal was more of a modernization of NAFTA.
President Trump will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for a working dinner tomorrow evening. Both leaders will surely discuss their ongoing trade war; the US has placed around $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, to which Beijing has responded in kind. The two sides have yet reached a compromise to defuse tensions, with the US repeatedly pulling away from potential deals in hopes that China caves to its demands. One of Trump's hardest-line advisers on China trade, Peter Navarro, will participate in a Saturday dinner meeting. Is Trump underestimating China's resolve or overestimating his skills and understanding of The Art of the Deal?
So, it's being reported that French President Emmanuel Macron confronted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi on the sidelines of the G20 summit Friday, French officials said. In a five-minute talk, part of which was caught on tape, Macron gave "very firm" messages to MBS over the killing, French officials told Reuters, and demanded that international experts take part in an investigation into the murder that the Saudi government is suspected of ordering. On the tape that I saw, I did not see a confrontation, but it was a good thing that Macron did at least raise the issue and call for an international investigation. It is also reported that the two spoke about the war in Yemen.
Yesterday, President Trump abruptly canceled his planned meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, citing the unresolved naval standoff between Russia and Ukraine as the cause. I would like to get your thoughts on this, but I think the Ukraine issue is just a cover. First, the Cohen story breaks, and as I understand it, Trump and Putin are supposed to be discussing nuclear disarmament. Putin is trying to get Trump to the table to discuss that, but US National Security Advisor John Bolton, being the hawk and hard-line anti-disarmament voice in the room, seems to be carrying the day.
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Colin Campbell — Multimedia journalist for a number of national and international outlets.
Elisabeth Myers — Editor-in-Chief of Inside Arabia.
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