Strategic Patience with China

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Strategic patience. That’s what’s needed now with China.

Canada did the right thing in acceding to the U.S. Justice Department’s request to extradite Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou. We long ago allied ourselves to the United States, and this partnership serves Canadian interests.

Unfortunately, our China relationship is now as much hostage to the outcome of the Sino-American trade dispute as are our hostages: Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. The affair does demonstrate to Canadians a different face of China: the ‘claws of the panda’ – the descriptive title of Jonathan Manthorpe’s book outlining Chinese efforts at intimidation and influence in Canada.

Like the rest of the West, successive Canadian governments were dazzled by Chinese growth. The lure of contracts mostly turned a blind eye to its authoritarian excesses. The Harper government had reservations, but most Western governments were willing to give China the benefit of the doubt over its authoritarianism and human-rights abuses. The prevailing belief was that economic progress would inevitably lead to political liberalization.

It turns out that Western democratic liberalism is neither easily transferable nor inevitable. Like Mao Zedong, Chinese President Xi Jinping has achieved personal rule through the Chinese Communist Party. Mr. Xi is reverting to state control of the economy.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to confront China over its trade practices is long overdue. The forced transfers of technology from companies that partner with Chinese companies, intellectual-property theft, subsidies to state-owned enterprises and dumping steel has hurt Canadians as well as Americans.

The Sino-American tariff war is set to resume in March when U.S rates are scheduled to riseThe tariffs have disrupted the markets and supply chains. They are also hurting the Chinese economy, but the Chinese show no signs of making the necessary structural changes, nor are we anywhere near the verification and enforcement provisions the United States deems foundationalto any China deal.

The Trump approach is awkward. But bringing along the trading partners and using multilateralism is not the Trump way.

Our hostages, meanwhile, are two months into their Chinese captivity. We need to continue rallying international support for their release. It’s a sad reflection on the West that our allies required encouragement, and even then not everyone stood up.

Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye describes Canadian actions as “white supremacy.” He wants us to stop. We must not. We need to keep the public spotlight on our hostages. We should raise their plight in the United Nations Human Rights Council, where Chinese treatment of minority Uyghurs has already come under condemnation.

It’s also time for a strategic shift in Canada’s Asia-Pacific policy. We need to move away from its overriding emphasis on China and focus more on developing markets and shoring up trade and security relations with our democratic partners in the Pacific.

The “window is open” says Japanese Ambassador Kimihiro Ishikane. The Japanese have not always been so forthcoming, so we should take up their offer to expand trade and investment with the world’s third-largest economy.

We also need to make sure we are taking full advantage of our free-trade agreement with South Korea.

Above all, we should prioritize the new Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with resources and attention. The new partnership, with its high standards and enforcement provisions on intellectual property, labour and the environment, is now our main entrée into the Pacific. We need to encourage the remaining ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and other Pacific countries to join up. With a different president, the United States will likely rejoin the pact. In different circumstances, China might also come aboard. As a recent Peterson Institute report argues, membership offers China a chance “to shape the global innovation economy while signalling clear commitment to outward-oriented reforms and global norms.”

As long as China wants regional dominance with kowtowing tributaries, Canada’s relationship with the Middle Kingdom will be difficult.

China wants to influence our thinking on China, but we need to be sure that its efforts are transparent. We need to practise constructive vigilance in our dealings. This means close attention to Chinese involvement with our businesses, elected officials and academic institutions. We must resist any effort to undermine our democracy. The rule of the law is what differentiates our system from theirs.

Once our hostages are returned, we need a public debate before resetting the relationship. For now, with our trade ambitions in the deep freeze, the best approach to China is strategic patience and a focus on our democratic Pacific partners.

Time for new Ambassadors

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January 27 2019 11:05am

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson tells Mike Le Couteur now that Ambassador McCallum has been ousted as Canada’s ambassador to China, China needs to do the same with its ambassador to Canada.Michael Couture interviews Colin Robertson on West Block

McCallum’s firing an opportunity to ‘reset’ relations with China: former diplomat

VIDEO WILL BEGIN AFTER THESE MESSAGES…X

WATCH: Colin Robertson says China’s Ambassador to Canada should be removed

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The firing of John McCallum as Canada’s ambassador to China represents an opportunity for the two countries to reset their relationship, according to a former diplomat.

READ MORE: McCallum out as Canadian ambassador to China after comments on Meng extradition

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday that McCallum had been told to hand in his resignation hours after he was quoted saying it would be “great for Canada” if the U.S. dropped its extradition request for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

McCallum’s firing left Ottawa’s strategy for navigating tensions with Beijing in disarray; it came days after the former immigration minister and Liberal MP said he misspoke in telling Chinese-language journalists that Meng had arguments that could aid her legal fight against extradition.

WATCH: Freeland calls international support from allies ‘encouraging’ over detained Canadians in China


“It’s an opportunity to reset the relationship. We’ve now got the opportunity to put in a new ambassador,” Colin Robertson, former diplomat and vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said on The West Block on Sunday.

READ MORE: Detention of Canadians by China was ‘retaliation’ for Meng arrest: former U.S. envoy to China

“I think we should also be pushing for a new Chinese ambassador because some of the comments that he’s made about white supremacy are just off the reservation,” Robertson added in reference to ambassador Lu Shaye’s accusation that Canada’s calls for the release of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were driven by “Western egotism and white supremacy.”

WATCH: Government explains firing of Canada’s Ambassador to China

Robertson said the appointment of new ambassadors could pave the way for more fruitful engagement, and that the Canadian government should “impress upon the Chinese that we’re prepared to engage with them.”

However, the first priority is getting Kovrig and Spavor released and convincing China to mitigate the death sentence handed to convicted drug smuggler Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, Robertson added.

In the wake of McCallum’s resignation, Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent the country in China as charge d’affaires effective immediately, Trudeau said.

READ MORE: McCallum’s comments ‘unhelpful’ in securing release of Canadians detained in China, Mendocino says

Canada’s strategy is being closely watched by Western allies such as Australia and the U.K., Robertson said, “because they could be in this same situation so that’s why they’re banding behind us.”

But he acknowledged that, ultimately, Canada is in the middle of a spat between two far more powerful players in the U.S. — which is seeking Meng’s extradition — and China.

“I don’t think much is going to happen until the China-U.S. relationship is sorted out and, of course, we’re through this extradition hearing with Meng Wanzhou,” Robertson said.

— With files from the Canadian Press

Michael Le Couteur: So, where does this leave the Canadians caught in the crossfire in China? Well joining me right now is a former diplomat, Colin Robertson. Thanks very much for joining us.

Colin Robertson: Good to be with you, Michael.

Michael Le Couteur: So I guess the first question is the message to the families now of these detained, how are they to feel right now?

Colin Robertson: Well it’s the same, we’re—the Canadian government has got their back and our representatives in China and headed now by our chargé, who are making every effort to defend their interests and particularly getting access to them to report on the conditions they’re in. That’s got to be the concern of the families is how are their husband, brothers, and sons?

Michael Le Couteur: But how do we now get that message back on track going forward with China? Because everything the Chinese have seen right now are two different messages: one from the prime minister and one from McCallum. How do we right this ship?

Colin Robertson: Well the emphasis, once again, I think as we heard this morning, the government is doubling down on the rules based approach, which is exactly right. Because for a country like Canada, we need rules, especially when you’re a middle power to be able to deal with big, that’s what levels the playing field. So the rules based institutions and the rules based approach, which is at the heart of this whole extradition affair, is what we talk about, but it’s also an opportunity to reset the relationship. We’ve now got an opportunity to put in a new ambassador. I think we should also be pushing for a new Chinese ambassador because some of the comments that he’s made about white supremacy is just off the reservation and I think we impress upon the Chinese that we want to have a new—restart the relationship, but we probably need new quarterbacks in the field because frankly, we don’t—the Chinese didn’t necessarily trust Mr. McCallum anymore, or did he have the confidence of the prime minister, and we don’t trust, I think, the Chinese ambassador. So I think it starts with that. The alternative might be something like special envoys which are better to have ambassadors who you can trust and work with.

Michael Le Couteur: But I mean resetting some of the players is a good plan, but so much of the game has already been played. How do we get anybody to forget the first three quarters of all of this?

Colin Robertson: Well they won’t, but you go in with a new ambassador and perhaps an ambassador here and they engage. I mean it’s all about engagement. We think about sending over a ministerial delegation. We impress upon the Chinese that we’re prepared to engage with them. But first and foremost, we’ve got to be getting the two Canadians that we are detained, we think unfairly, out of jail and some sort of mitigation on the sentence of Mr. Schellenberg, although that would be different and that’s on a separate track. And then you get into the economic relationship and then the sort of broader interests as well. And remember, other countries are going to be watching how we’re handling this because they could be in the same position. In the same way—in a certain way, the Chinese are—you know, there’s this Chinese expression, you know, you kill a chicken to scare the monkeys. Well there’s a whole lot of monkeys, which are the Chinese sort of say look how we’re treating Canada. And so they will—that’s why they’re banding behind us because that’s why you’re getting the Brits and the Australians and everyone else because they could be in our position as well.

Michael Le Couteur: How much more difficult will it be to smooth over relationships, especially with the Chinese? Because they are such a superpower, because of how traditional they are in relationships.

Colin Robertson: Well the Chinese have interests, too, and I think they would understand they have people into China have gone off the reservation and they deal with them in a more summary fashion than Mr. McCallum’s been dealt with. So this doesn’t normally happen, but this is extraordinary even for Canada, but is an opportunity, as I say, to reset. But I think you need some new players, two new ambassadors and then with a clear goal to get the relationship back on track. Now, I don’t think anything much is going to happen until the China-U.S. relationship is sorted out and of course we’re through this extradition hearing with Meng Wanzhou.

Michael Le Couteur: And just quickly, if you were to advise the prime minister what to do in the next couple days ahead. Does he have to call President Xi to go look, hey, sorry about all this, let’s reset?

Colin Robertson: No. I think that we’ve got a chargé who will deliver a message. Well, I think Chrystia Freeland could talk to her counterpart. He may well pick up the phone to talk to his counterpart, the premier. Not the president, because the Chinese aren’t—the president won’t take it, again, their very particular minded. And just sort of say—and I think deliver the message. Okay, we’re going to be appointing a new ambassador fairly soon, we’d like you to consider something as well because we think this important relationship should get back on track.

Michael Le Couteur: I appreciate your time. That’s all the time we have for you today, Colin Robertson. Thanks so much for joining us.

John McCallum’s political skills failed both him and Trudeau

The consequences of McCallum’s departure are serious and time sensitive

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates former immigration minister John McCallum he made his final statement in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Jan. 31, 2017, before he took up his Beijing post. This week the prime minister fired McCallum. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

John McCallum got the job as Canada’s ambassador to China because of his political background. The clear signal to the Chinese was that the former cabinet minister could pick up the phone and speak directly to the prime minister.

In the end McCallum’s political skills failed both him and the man who sent him to Beijing.

His last call with the PM wasn’t initiated by him — it was Justin Trudeau firing him from the post.

Virtually every analyst says McCallum had to go for telling the media, not once but twice this week, that it would be better for Canada if Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou isn’t extradited to the United States.

One slip-up could be forgiven. The second could not.

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, who’s now vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said McCallum’s firing was unavoidable.

“In private discussions with the Chinese he might be able to say those things,” Robertson told CBC News on Sunday. “To say those things publicly is completely counter to what the prime minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland have been saying — that this is a judicial process based on the rule of law.”

McCallum’s comments suggested just the opposite, lending credence to what Chinese had insisted all along — Meng’s arrest was political.

It’s a devastating setback for Canadian diplomacy with China.

When Justin Trudeau first met President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Turkey back in November 2015, Xi made a point of praising his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, for what he called his “historic engagement” with China in 1970.

“China will always remember that,” Xi said.

Better left unsaid

In sending McCallum to China in 2017, Trudeau was choosing a long-time cabinet member who had overseen the process of re-settling nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees.

Yes, there were risks in appointing a politician who was never loath to speak his mind to the sensitive world of diplomacy where, as the American politician Lincoln Chafee once said, “some things are better left unsaid.” That just wasn’t McCallum’s style. He was a frequent guest on political talk shows. He was never one to duck a question. Unlike most diplomats, he never bought into the notion of talking without saying anything.

But whatever those risks, Trudeau wanted the value of appointing a highly visible cabinet minister to Beijing. In doing so he elevated China to a status that had been reserved, previously, for the most important and high-profile diplomatic posts in Washington, London and Paris.

Trudeau wanted closer ties with the world’s second-largest economy. McCallum’s job was to help make that happen.

McCallum leaves a federal cabinet meeting in Sherbrooke, Que., on Wednesday, Jan. 16. He was a frequent guest on political talk shows and was never one to duck a question. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

News reports of his appointment noted McCallum’s wife is Chinese. His old riding in Markham, Ont., is home to many people of Chinese descent.

“I need my top people to be out there engaging at the highest levels around the world,” Trudeau said at the time.

The marching order, as McCallum himself set it out, was more of everything: trade, investment, tourism, cultural ties.

Those gains really never fully materialized.

Canada did secure a tourism deal with China that made it easier for Chinese tourists to visit Canada.

But the desire to commence formal free trade talks fizzled, despite the prime minister’s own visit to China in December 2017. A year later, Meng’s arrest on behalf of the United States as she stepped off a flight in Vancouver sent relations spiralling to new lows.

Choosing the next ambassador will be a delicate process

The consequences of McCallum’s departure now are serious.

Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, remain in custody in China, accused of endangering national security, both arrested shortly after Meng was detained in Canada.

A third Canadian, convicted in China of drug smuggling, had his 15-year jail term overturned and now faces a death sentence.

McCallum’s predecessor in Beijing, Guy Saint-Jacques, said finding the right person now to represent Canada is critical.

“In my view, this crisis is the worst we have seen with China since we established diplomatic relations back in 1970.”

And whoever Trudeau chooses, it has to be soon. The lives of those three detained Canadians are in the balance. A successful resolution to that crisis, and to the Meng extradition, is paramount.

Normalizing relations with a powerful nation such as China comes next. That job will include communicating to China what role, if any, Huawei will have in Canada’s 5G mobile network.

The question now is where Trudeau will turn for his next ambassador.

Saint-Jacques, for one, believes the next ambassador has to have a deep knowledge of China. Others add that McCallum’s successor needs to be fluent in Mandarin, which McCallum wasn’t, and should come from the senior ranks of the foreign service, rather than the front lines of the political world.

Still others say the next ambassador must continue to have the ear of the prime minister.

It all adds up to this. The next call between Trudeau and Canada’s ambassador to China will be initiated by the prime minister again. And it will be just as important as his last.

Trump, Canada and the global order

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With Mr. Trump cheering the way, nationalism and competition are dominant global trends. As with Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort, this President personifies and appeals to the darker forces. If two years of Mr. Trump have taught Canada and its allies anything, it is that he cannot be trusted and that we need to take a collective stand against his bullying.

Unfortunately, populism, protectionism and polarization will persist after his presidency. So will conflicting U.S. partisan priorities. Consistency in U.S. policy and bipartisan support for alliances and multilateralism no longer apply. Canada and its allies need to adapt.

As with Mr. Trump, Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia also see the world differently. They are building authoritarian systems based on state capitalism. Western hopes that they’d become “responsible stakeholders” were ill-founded. Instead, they are weaponizing cyberintrusion, surveillance and big data to ensure domestic stability. Now they are using these tools to subvert democracies.

Together with Mr. Trump, they share a contempt for the rules-based order. They’d rather see a concert of great powers, each exercising respective spheres of influence. Thucydides long ago described this school of international affairs: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

As the Huawei situation clearly shows, China is giving Canada a taste of what life will be like in this new order. This future would be a disaster for liberal democracies such as Canada.

Mr. Trump’s policy of “America First” leaves a vacuum that all constructive powers need to fill. No one country can do it alone, but working together, we can shore up the system. Even while multilateralism is taking a beating, recent global compacts on climate and migration and a raft of regional trade deals demonstrate its worth.

But multilateralism needs constant reinvigoration. This means repairing or reforming what is breaking down in the face of technological, climatic and demographic changes. We have to help those hurt by change.

Security must be the first priority. Our top general warns of great-power dynamics, especially Russia and China. All allies have to reinvest in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It’s time to expand our durable, collective-security alliance into the Indo-Pacific and the Arctic. Australia, Japan, Korea and New Zealand are already NATO partners. They should be full members.

Given the growing maritime challenges, Canada needs more investments in its navy: procuring the next generation of submarines with under-ice operability and a half-dozen “hospital” ships for rapid deployment to increasing numbers of natural and man-made disasters in coastal areas.

Securing our democratic institutions is also vital as we prepare for an election later this year. Our intelligence agencies warn that our electoral process is not immune to bad-actor interference. Are we ready to tackle bot-controlled disinformation?

Our second priority should be to shore up the global trading system that generates our prosperity. Mr. Trump has a point about its ineffective dispute-settlement process. The solution is to fix it as Canada and others will continue to do this week when they meet in Davos, Switzerland.

The third priority must be addressing climate change. Rather than fixate on carbon pricing, we need to collaborate – on global knowledge in battery storage, renewables, and efficiencies in building codes. Use COSIA – (Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance) with its commitment to sharing technological innovations that mitigate environmental damage – as a model.

As with Humpty Dumpty, the global operating system has had a great fall. Mr. Trump and his fellow travellers will eventually face an accounting, but, until then, we need to focus on fixing rather than blaming.

Canada and other constructive countries know that we all do better when we agree that rules are the principle upon which we base our order. They level the playing field and establish norms of behaviour. Multilateralism is worth fighting for.

Changing World Order

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CTV Powerplay: From Canada’s relationship with China, to the killing of a man in Burkina Faso, a panel of experts discusses the state of global affairs. with Hon. Peter MacKay, Samantha Nutt and Colin Robertson in conversation with Don Martin

Congressional Class of 2019

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After a rancorous U.S. midterm election period, Congress and state legislatures are starting their new sessions.

Nearly one-fifth of the state legislators are newly elected, while Congress’s freshman class numbers more than 100. That means it’s time for Canada to re-engage with U.S. lawmakers – after all, we have a lot at stake and a lot of politicians to remind about our mutual dependence.

Our alliance with the United States is fundamentally about political and diplomatic relationships. And building relationships is vital to Canadian interests, especially with a new crop of legislators who haven’t yet been infected by the hardy perennials of “Buy America” thinking, which can be hard to weed out later.

Nothing is assured. That includes the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was signed at the end of November to much fanfare, but cannot actually be sealed until implementing legislation is passed in all three countries. The U.S. Trade Promotion Authority mandates an up-or-down vote in both chambers of Congress. The new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, too, might not support the proposed USMCA; most House Democrats voted against the original North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, even with Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. While Donald Trump has threatened to set a six-month countdown clock on the original NAFTA deal as soon as he introduces the implementing bill, thinking that this will leverage congressional passage, we can’t assume that his efforts will work.

Canada needs to continue the Team Canada advocacy effort that helped get them the USMCA deal in the first place by deploying federal ministers, premiers, members of Parliament and provincial legislators to meet their U.S. counterparts once again, and continuing to remind them of the importance of Canadian trade and investment to their districts and states in creating and sustaining jobs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s California district, for instance, exports more than US$637-million in goods and services to Canada. An estimated 1.2 million jobs in her home state – with more than 2,770 of those in her San Francisco district – depend on Canadian-owned companies. We need to keep reminding her of this and make the same detailed pitch to every member of Congress.

The new Congress is the most diverse in U.S. history, and women now account for 127 of the 535 members. Given the creation of the Trump-Trudeau inspired Canada-United States Council for Women Entrepreneurs & Business Leaders, it would also be wise for an all-party delegation of women to meet their counterparts, primarily to build relationships but also to help advance the Council’s plan for jointly expanding female-owned business and enabling their access to capital.

In the coming days, governors in 39 states – either new or re-elected – will be taking their oath of office, too. Canada’s premiers need to call on the new governors and re-engage with the re-elected, while our consuls general should attend the swearing-in ceremonies, which are rich in networking opportunities. I remember that, as a consul general myself, I met two future California state secretaries at then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inauguration in 2003.

February’s annual national governors’ conference in Washington also offers a chance to advocate for smart U.S. infrastructure spending from Mr. Trump’s proposed trillion-dollar “Building a Stronger America” initiative. Better transportation – such as roads, railways, ports, grids and pipelines – helps all North Americans. However, there remains no procurement chapter in the new USMCA, even though the premiers successfully achieved this in 2010 by negotiating a reciprocity agreement on procurement. By opening cross-order competition, both Canada and the United States. will get better value from procurement dollars.

Our Washington embassy, located just down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol building, is a natural place for premiers and governors to get together. When Frank McKenna was our ambassador, then-Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee – father of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders – jammed on his guitar, while Nova Scotia-born country singer George Canyon and Mr. McKenna joined in on tambourines, in front of a group of Canadian and Washington movers and shakers.

Canada has an advantage over all other countries, thanks to the deep network of connections that go beyond trade and weave themselves into ties of family and friendship. Annual Gallup polling consistently demonstrates that the United States ranks Canada as its favourite country: 94 per cent of Americans like us, according to the most recent survey.

We have both position and opportunity to advance our objectives with the U.S. legislative class of 2019. We need to act – never forgetting that we are most effective when we come together as Team Canada.

Why the G20 still matters

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Ten years on, the G20 still has relevance – and not just as inspiration for a clever skit in the latest Saturday Night Live. The G20 countries are the principal shareholders in the global economy. Together, these 19 nations and the European Union represent 85 percent of global output and two-thirds of the world’s peoples.

At its best, the G20 gets the major economies steering in the same direction – essential if responsible globalization is to succeed. The G20 works with the heads of the key financial, economic and trade institutions and draws advice from business, labour and civil society.

If the G7 leadership is mostly liberal democrats, the G20 includes autocrats, authoritarians and, apparently, authorizers of assassination. Their communiqués, like their plenary sessions, tend to the platitudinous, aspirational and run-on.

The leaders’ declaration – building consensus for fair and sustainable development – is a mouthful, but its 31-point communique is the most succinct in years. Importantly, the leaders commit to improving a “rules-based international order” capable of effectively responding to our “rapidly changing world.”

The communiqué addresses the conference’s three main themes – the future of work, infrastructure and food – all areas of Canadian interest. Gender mainstreaming – the assessment of the implications of public policy on gender – is a Canadian priority and criss-crosses the entire agenda. Reform of the World Trade Organization gets a boost. A Canadian initiative on improving WTO dispute-settlement provisions got another airing at Buenos Aries.

Leaders acknowledged climate change, but avoided making a choice between renewables and fossil fuels. Instead they endorse “different possible national paths” to achieve cleaner energy systems. The IMF and World Bank are directed to get a better grip on cross-border financial flows as well as public and private debt obligations between borrowers and creditors.

The communiqué reaffirmed past commitments to combat terrorism and money laundering. It noted the threat of anti-microbial resistance. Africa and the development agenda got a nod. It punted migration and the displaced to the next G20 summit, which will be hosted by Japan in 2019.

While endorsing transformative technology, leaders implicitly recognize that some jobs are never coming back. Governments need to be creative and deliberative in addressing adjustment. Policies need to be multifaceted. This means wage subsidies, earned-income tax credits and investments in communities.

To create an innovative economy, governments need to rethink education to encourage cognitive, digital and entrepreneurship skills. Are we doing enough in early childhood development? Do our schools develop STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – competencies? Do we have the right funding balance between the ivory tower and vocational training;, between applied sciences and the liberal arts? Do we invest enough in apprenticeships? Given the mismatch in skills seen in many countries, should business have more of a voice in higher education? How do we facilitate lifelong learning?

The opportunity for formal and informal face-to-face meetings between leaders is the real value of these summits. With the principal players in one place, things can get done.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland convinced her G7 counterparts to express their “utmost concern” over Russian aggression against Ukraine. Unable to get G8 consensus around the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Canada announced its own sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals. The two actions were at least some riposte to the egregious high-fiving between Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman.

Bookending this summit was the Friday-morning signing of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the Saturday dinner shared by presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, where the two leaders agreed to a trade truce and set a 90-day deadline for a new pact.

The USMCA is not perfect. It’s more managed trade than free trade. Justin Trudeau reminded President Trump that there is still unfinished business around the steel and aluminium tariffs. Canada will probably have to settle for a cap or the kind of creative solution – wage thresholds – that broke the impasse on the auto rules of origin.

While the USMCA is now signed, it still needs to be sealed through the implementation of legislation in each country. The Trudeau government should await U.S. ratification. We need to be sure that Mr. Trump’s legislation conforms to our agreement and that he can deliver its passage through the new Congress.

Like all international institutions, the G20 has its flaws. Originally a Canadian initiative that brought finance ministers and central bankers together, it was raised to leaders’ level at the onset of the Great Recession. A decade later, it still makes a useful contribution to global welfare.

G20 and Trudeau

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11/30/2018 07:16

Justin Trudeau Urged By Ukrainian Officials To Speak Out Against Russia

Russia recently seized three Ukrainian vessels near Crimea.

THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers short remarks during the Women’s Economic Empowerment Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Nov. 29, 2018.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday as pressure mounts on Canada to forge a united diplomatic front against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Trudeau and Poroshenko spoke following the prime minister’s arrival at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Thursday and the leaders discussed Russia’s actions that resulted in the seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels near Crimea, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The call came after Russia announced Wednesday it would deploy another battery of anti-aircraft missiles to the Crimean Peninsula, bolstering its hold on the region it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Top Ukrainian officials are now urging Trudeau to be a voice against Russia.

The issue has also become even more complicated in the past 24 hours due to developments in the United States, prompting Donald Trump to cancel a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Trump announced Thursday on Twitter he would not be meeting Putin because “the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.”

Andriy Shevchenko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, said Trudeau should use his position as G7 president to deal with the current crisis.

Canada could also use this week’s G20 meeting in Argentina to advance that line of response, Shevchenko said.

“We would like to see a joint consolidated response from the free world,” he said.

Merkel to press Putin at G20

In a primer published on the G20 summit, former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson and vice president with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute said Trudeau must see if he and Freeland can find consensus among G7 fellow leaders on Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine and on human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia.

“Neither is likely to happen,” he wrote.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she plans to press Putin at G20 summit to urge the release of the Ukrainian ships and crews and to de-escalate the situation.

“We can only resolve this in talks with one another because there is no military solution to all of these conflicts,” she said.

With files from Mike Blanchfield and The Associated Press

G20 Primer on Buenos Aries Summit

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A Canadian Primer to the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 30-December 1, 2018

G20_Argentina_Header.JPG

Image credit: G20

PRIMER

by Colin Robertson
CGAI Vice-President and Fellow
November 2018

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Table of Contents


Introduction

On Friday, November 30, the leaders of the 19 major economic nations and the EU will convene in the Costa Salguero convention centre along the Rio de la Plata in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. It is their 13th summit. This year’s host is Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri. The leaders are a diverse group – liberal democrats, authoritarians and autocrats. While the plenary sessions are the official focus, more attention will be on the interactions between U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, stained by the Khashoggi killing and the war in Yemen, is also attending.

North Americans will be watching the sideline meetings of President Trump with Mexico’s outgoing president, Enrique Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. According to Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump’s economic adviser, they or their representatives are supposed to sign the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), although there are reportedly details still to be worked out.

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Who and What is the G20?

The G20 leaders’ summit is the culmination of a year-long process of over 50 formal meetings that include the central bankers, finance ministers and sherpas. The summit, that celebrates its 10thanniversary this year, is effectively the meeting of the principal shareholders in the global economy meeting with their executive board – the heads of the organizations responsible for keeping the global economic, finance and trade operating systems in working order. It also includes civil society engagement through the Business 20, Civil 20, Labour 20, Science 20, Think 20, Women 20 and Youth 20.

The ‘shareholders’ include the G7 nations: Canada, the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union as well as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.  With 2/3 of the world’s population, their economies account for approximately 85 per cent of global economic output and  75 per cent of international trade.

Other participants include Spain, a permanently invited guest to G20 meetings. As host, Argentina has also invited Chile and the Netherlands to this summit. The heads of the United Nations, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Financial Stability Board, International Labour Organization and the Development Bank of Latin America will also participate.

Countries chairing key regional groups – such as the African Union (Rwanda), the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (Singapore) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Senegal) – are also invited and Argentina has included the Caribbean Community, represented by Jamaica, for this year’s G20.

The G20, originally a meeting of finance ministers, their deputies and central bankers, was formed in 1999 in the wake of the Asian and Russian financial crisis with Canada’s then-Finance Minister Paul Martin playing a lead role. It was raised to the leaders’ level in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis when then-U.S. president George W. Bush convened a summit in Washington in November 2008 to address the crisis. As Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Stewart Patrick observes: “The event reflected a new reality. Western governments could no longer hope to resolve international economic crises themselves. They needed a more encompassing body that included rising nations.

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The G20’s Standing Agenda

The de facto standing agenda for the G20 includes:

  • Multilateral trading system. The leaders will speak to its importance but there is no sense the WTO’s Doha round is going anywhere. The U.S. is also unhappy with the operation of the WTO itself, especially its dispute settlement. Canada, working with like-minded countries, has taken the lead in trying to find a solution to make the process more transparent and efficient.
  • Promoting international investment. Barriers to investment continue to plague G20 economies. The need of governments to further open their economies will be addressed.
  • Achieving sustainable fiscal policy. This means saving in good times so you can spend in recession and then get back to balance as quickly as possible.
  • Supporting sustainable development. With the conclusion of the Millennium Development plan in 2016, nations are now committed to 17 goals in the new UN Sustainable Development Agenda to be achieved by 2030, including zero poverty, gender equality, good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation, reduced inequalities, decent work and economic growth.
  • Resistance to protectionismGlobal Trade Alert reports that since 2008, notwithstanding the G20 pledge for standstill at the London 2010 summit, governments have taken 11,743 protectionistmeasures ranging from local content requirements to discriminatory regulatory practices. According to the WTO, G20 trade restrictive measures for 2018 are more than six times larger than those recorded in 2017 and the largest since this measure was first calculated in 2012. While new import-facilitating measures rose significantly during this period, they are less than half that of trade-restrictive measures. WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo has called for immediate action to de-escalate the situation.  Whether Trump and Xi curb the trade war is an open question. Which is cause for concern for investors across the globe. The U.S. and China remain far apart, as was seen with the failure of the APEC summit to agree on a final communiqué.

G20 Trade-Restrictive Measures
(average per month)

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What Does the Buenos Aires Summit Want to Achieve?

“BUILDING CONSENSUS FOR FAIR AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT” is the theme of this year’s summit and President Macri has set three priorities:

The future of work: Unleashing people’s potential. Technological change is extraordinary in its magnitude and speed. G20 leaders want to avoid a scenario in which one nation seizes paramountcy in artificial or cyber-intelligence, leaving the rest far behind. The emergence of new technologies has led to the development of new forms of work that are rapidly changing production processes worldwide. Policy responses need to ensure that embracing technological change will not engender exclusion, social disintegration or backlash. Education is at the crux of this debate. Pointing to the GM Oshawa plant closing, the Mowat Center’s Sunil Johal observes that it “is a reminder that failing to take advantage of this opportunity to reform skills training, education and other vital social supports to be more responsive, client-centred and focused on outcomes will leave Canada out-of-step with the trajectory of the global economy – and risk leaving more workers disrupted out of their jobs, with nowhere to turn.”

Infrastructure for development: Mobilizing private resources to reduce the infrastructure deficit. The global infrastructure gap projected from now to the year 2035 amounts to US$5.5 trillion according to some estimates. The World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index for infrastructure puts Canada in 25th position internationally. We can do better. Meanwhile, institutional investors, that include Canadian pension funds and big league players like Canada’s Brookfield, have US$80 trillion in assets under management, typically offering low returns. Mobilizing private investment toward infrastructure is crucial to closing the global infrastructure gap. It can also ensure a better return for those who today save and invest. This is a win-win objective and it requires international co-operation. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a major source of infrastructure funding but BRI financing on partner nations’ debt levels, governance and susceptibility to Chinese influence are increasingly under scrutiny and will doubtless be discussed at Buenos Aires.

A sustainable food future: Improving soils and increasing productivity. The G20 countries are key players in the global food system. Their territories account for about 60 per cent of all agricultural land and for almost 80 per cent of world trade in food and agricultural commodities. Approximately 10 millionhectares of cropland are lost every year due to soil erosion. Food production must double during the next 30 years to meet projected population growth and dietary changes. Feeding the world without erasing our forests and using up our water is the big challenge requiring international co-operation. In a recent report Canada’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth has argued that Canadian leadership in global food production could help drive an economic growth agenda for the country for generations. With a reputation for safety, quality and trustworthiness, Canada’s food brand is “enhanced by the country’s natural advantage, its stock of natural resources – fresh water and arable land – and an ecological footprint in producing food that is among the best in the world.”

Argentina has also pledged to build on past presidencies across a broad array of issues and they are all likely to be reflected in any communiqué, no matter how wishy-washy the language:

  • Empowering women
  • Fighting corruption
  • Strengthening financial governance
  • Continuing work towards a strong and sustainable financial system
  • Improving the fairness of the global tax system
  • Co-operating on trade and investment
  • Taking responsibility on climate action
  • Transitioning towards cleaner, more flexible and transparent energy systems

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What About Deliverables from Buenos Aires?

Not a lot. Achieving a consensus communiqué, given the rancorous relationships particularly between China and the U.S., may be all we can expect. Most of the action will be at the bilateral level. The working dinner on Saturday night between Trump and Xi will be closely watched. The trade war with China has seen the U.S. hit about half of all Chinese imports with tariffs. China has responded in kind but the U.S. buys much more from China than China buys from the U.S.

As is always the case at these summits, security will be paramount with a 20,000-officer-strong security operation commanded by Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, who recently indicated people should carry guns if they so pleased. Anti-globalization protests will inevitably take place.

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Canadian Objectives

This is Justin Trudeau’s fourth G20 summit. According to the PMO release on the G20 meeting, Prime Minister Trudeau will build on the issues advanced at this year’s Charlevoix G8 summit: “To create good, middle-class jobs, invest in economic growth that benefits everyone, advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, fight climate change, protect our oceans, and promote clean energy.” Mr. Trudeau will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

As G8 lead until the end of the year, Mr. Trudeau must see if he and Ms. Freeland can find consensus among his G7 fellow leaders, as they did on Venezuela, on Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine and on human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia. Neither is likely to happen, although Canada has now imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals that “in the opinion of the Government of Canada, [are] responsible for or complicit in the extrajudicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi… The explanations offered to date by Saudi Arabia lack consistency and credibility.”

Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Freeland will also canvas their counterparts on the Canadian efforts to reform the WTO, especially its dispute settlement process.

Mr. Trudeau will want to speak with transpacific leaders (Mexico, Australia, Japan) about the December 30 implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The summit will be an opportunity for Trudeau to push European leaders, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, to move on their own ratification of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and to push other European leaders to get it done. While the agreement took effect in September 2017, it requires the approval of all 28 EU member states. Italy has threatened not to ratify CETA and various member states such as Austria want the EU Court of Justice to rule on the investment court system.

Canada hosted the G20 in Toronto in 2010.

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Do We Really Need a G20?

Yes. At a time when globalization, the maintenance of a liberal international order and multilateral co-operation are under question, the G20 is an important forum to discuss, and hopefully advance, common global interests. More people will work on the draft of the final communiqué than may read it but the process of getting there is what really matters. The ongoing meetings between central bankers and finance ministers (the original G20) now include other ministerial meetings as well as regular discussions with business, civil society and think tanks.

The G20 filled a gap in the architecture of top table meeting places at the UN and G7. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the U.S. – represent the world of 1945 and the early Cold War. As we witness with Syria and other crises, getting the Security Council to act constructively is very difficult. Reforming it is an exercise in futility. The G7 group of leaders – the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada – was created in 1975-1976 following the economic crisis that OPEC induced. It is Eurocentric. It doesn’t include China, India or Brazil. Russia joined in 1998 but it was suspended in 2014 after its invasion of Crimea.  The G20 complements at the leadership level the work of the other major financial and economic institutions: the “Bretton Woods twins” – the IMF and World Bank – and the WTO. As Patrick observes: “The G20 has the potential to act more nimbly and (at least in principle) transcend stultifying bloc politics that afflict the United Nations and other universal membership organizations.” Some suggest that the G20 should create a parallel foreign ministers’ track, arguing that the political and the economic go hand-in-hand, but this is probably a bridge too far for now.

So, the G20 makes sense. Like the G7, much of the G20’s value is in its process. What is important about these summits is not the prepared statements delivered at the main table, but the frank discussions and informal meetings that take place in the corridors and meeting rooms around the main conference. Winston Churchill, who popularized the word “summitry”, observed that “jaw-jaw” between leaders is better than “war-war”.

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The Economic Picture

The IMF’s World Economic Outlook (April 2018) reports that the global economic upswing that began around mid-2016 has become broader and stronger. This growth exceeds that achieved in any of the years between 2012 and 2016. World growth strengthened in 2017 to 3.8 per cent, stimulated in part by the Trump administration’s tax cuts.  But there are risks.  Growth has proven to be less balanced than hoped and inequality, which has helped spur populist movements around the globe, is a challenge. For the EU, there is the ongoing Brexit saga.

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Tighter global financial conditions include higher borrowing costs, less available credit after a borrowing binge and declining stock markets.

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In several key economies, growth is being supported by policies that seem unsustainable over the long term. The new Global Financial Stability Report says financial conditions have also tightened markedly in emerging and developing economies over the past six months. Global trade is rebounding although protectionist actions, especially by the Trump administration, are disrupting long-established supply chains.

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There are also the geopolitical risks.

Conflict continues in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Central Africa. Famine ravages the Horn of Africa. Russia still occupies parts of Ukraine and tensions have flared anew. China continues to muscle into the South China Sea. After abandoning the nuclear deal with Iran, the Trump administration has re-imposed sanctions. There is little discernible progress in the U.S.’s negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear and missile capacity. While the flow has diminished, refugees from Africa and the Middle East continue to stream into Europe and as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports there are over 68.5 million displaced persons. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also an estimated 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights.

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Further Reading

The official Argentine site has useful information, as does Global Affairs Canada. The best Canadian source for G20 documentation, with a chronology of past summits, is the University of Toronto’s G20 Information Centre managed by John Kirton. The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo does excellent research work on G20 issues. Both are also involved in the G20 Insights project that has produced a series of excellent policy briefs drawing on work by the Think 20.

G20 Economies 1992 and 2017

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G20 Trudeau and G8

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11/30/2018 07:16 EST

Justin Trudeau Urged By Ukrainian Officials To Speak Out Against Russia

Russia recently seized three Ukrainian vessels near Crimea.

THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers short remarks during the Women’s Economic Empowerment Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Nov. 29, 2018.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday as pressure mounts on Canada to forge a united diplomatic front against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Trudeau and Poroshenko spoke following the prime minister’s arrival at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Thursday and the leaders discussed Russia’s actions that resulted in the seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels near Crimea, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The call came after Russia announced Wednesday it would deploy another battery of anti-aircraft missiles to the Crimean Peninsula, bolstering its hold on the region it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Top Ukrainian officials are now urging Trudeau to be a voice against Russia.

The issue has also become even more complicated in the past 24 hours due to developments in the United States, prompting Donald Trump to cancel a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Trump announced Thursday on Twitter he would not be meeting Putin because “the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia.”

Andriy Shevchenko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, said Trudeau should use his position as G7 president to deal with the current crisis.

Canada could also use this week’s G20 meeting in Argentina to advance that line of response, Shevchenko said.

“We would like to see a joint consolidated response from the free world,” he said.

Merkel to press Putin at G20

In a primer published on the G20 summit, former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson and vice president with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute said Trudeau must see if he and Freeland can find consensus among G7 fellow leaders on Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine and on human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia.

“Neither is likely to happen,” he wrote.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she plans to press Putin at G20 summit to urge the release of the Ukrainian ships and crews and to de-escalate the situation.

“We can only resolve this in talks with one another because there is no military solution to all of these conflicts,” she said.

With files from Mike Blanchfield and The Associated Press

G20 Buenos Aries and USMCA

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USMCA signing could be overshadowed by larger divisions between nations at G20

The summit is expected to be dominated by U.S.-China spat and Saudi crown prince’s pariah status

A jetliner flies over the G20 summit venue at the Costa Salguero Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (Gustavo Garello/Associated Press)

Officials don’t know yet who will sign the pact. And they haven’t said exactly when, or where, it’s going to happen.

But when the G20 summit in Buenos Aires is over, the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico are supposed to be coming home with a newly signed trade agreement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his government was “still in discussions” with Washington about the timing and circumstances of the official United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement signing event. At any rate, it may turn out to be a hold-your-nose moment for the Trudeau government, which had hoped to see U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum lifted before signing day.

The chances that the tariffs will even be discussed at the summit, let alone lifted, are so slim that a source tells CBC News that Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. isn’t even going to Argentina.

Canada’s Ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton will not attend the G20 summit in Argentina, a source tells CBC News.(Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

David MacNaughton has been a key leader for the Canadian trade negotiating team, but he will not be present for the anticipated signing ceremony, or for any sideline talks with the Americans in Buenos Aires.

While the USMCA signing will be big news in Canada when it happens, it’s likely to be overshadowed by the larger global divisions on display at the G20.

The official agenda will see leaders discussing different approaches to sustainable and fair growth for the global economy. But these conversations come at a time when confidence in multilateral institutions is declining.

“How do we preserve that system that has sustained peace and prosperity for 70 years?” said Colin Robertson, a VP at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, when asked which question he’d like to see leaders tackle in Argentina. “Because it really has come into question in the last couple of years.”

The Americans have been at the centre of two summits that ended in diplomatic disaster in this year alone.

Most recently, the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea ended without a communique, as trade frustrations between the U.S. and China flared.

In June, the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec ended with President Trump pulling his support for the communique and lashing out at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “weak.”

“The rules-based order depends on the ability of the leaders from very diverse backgrounds to get together and try and come up with solutions that will take the world forward,” Robertson said.

“Mr. Trump is a disruptive force.”

U.S.-China trade tensions

Trade frustrations and market disruptions will be at the centre of a summit sideline meeting between Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping.

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Nov. 9, 2017. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)

It’s likely to be the last face-to-face discussion between the leaders before January 1 — when the U.S. is set to increase tariffs on more than $250 billion worth of Chinese goods unless China makes significant changes to its trading practices.

The ripple effect of an escalating trade war between China and the U.S. certainly would have consequences for Canada, but there isn’t much Canada can do apart from stand by and watch the conflict unfold.

“We don’t have that much influence, certainly not a great relationship between Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Trump. With the Chinese … we don’t have that kind of access or influence to act as mediators,” Patrick Leblond, an associate professor in international affairs at the University of Ottawa, told Radio-Canada.

“We need to work with our other partners, certainly the EU, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, to see how we can make sure that the tensions and the conflict do not escalate.”

Avoiding MBS

The other significant sideline distraction will be the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The prince —​ widely known as ‘MBS’ — has arrived in Argentina already, two days ahead of the summit’s official start.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives at Ministro Pistarini in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. (G20 via Reuters)

World leaders, including Trudeau, may go out of their way to avoid the prince, given the lingering questions about his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I think that the handlers on both sides will make every effort to make sure they don’t cross paths. You certainly aren’t going to see Mr. Trudeau giving him a handshake,” said Robertson.

Canada is one of several G20 countries still assessing its response to the murder of the Washington Post columnist.

While Prince Mohammed has denied any involvement, western leaders, including those in Canada, have questioned the credibility of the Saudis’ defence.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who will be in Buenos Aires, has said Canada is considering sanctions against those involved in Khashoggi’s murder. Last week, Freeland also said the government is reviewing arms sales to Saudi Arabia and won’t issue new arms export permits during that period of review.

The Trump administration has sanctioned more than a dozen individuals believed to be linked to the killing. But President Trump has decided against further action, arguing it would harm the U.S.-Saudi business relationship.