Asia Minute: G-20 and the Asia Pacific

Nov 30, 2018

G-20 Summit 2017 in Hamburg, Germany
Credit Presidential Press and Information Office /

As you’ve been hearing on NPR, the Group of 20 Summit gets underway today in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The international forum started meeting nearly 20 years ago, and while the headlines may focus on bi-lateral meetings, countries from the Asia Pacific are playing a growing role.

The Group of 20 started out in response to several debt crises that spread across borders — including the 1997 Asian Financial crisis. Systemic financial risk was an early focus of the G-20, and it remains at its heart — even though now more attention goes to country leaders rather than central bankers and finance ministers.

Half a dozen members of the G-20 are in the Asia Pacific — Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea. Others touch the Pacific — the U.S., Mexico, Canada – as well as Russia.

Asia Pacific media coverage of this G-20 summit mentions meetings with President Trump.

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe has a one-on-one, which will then expand to a tri-lateral meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The White House says the South Korea meeting will be shorter — what a spokesperson calls a “pull-aside.”

Australia’s Prime Minister’s spokesperson originally said there was “no pressing need” for a presidential meeting — but when space opened up in President Trump’s schedule, the prime minister took it.

Credit Senior Airman Mariah Haddenham / U.S. Air Force

One of the main events of the entire gathering will be Saturday evening’s dinner involving President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Whether or not it winds up with progress on trade.

And in a way, that brings this G-20 meeting back to its roots — an economic issue with the potential to spread to a broader international impact.