Bilateral meetings set to take center stage at G20 summit

World Today

President Donald Trump with China’s President Xi Jinping during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The meeting between Presidents Xi and Trump is expected to receive much of the attention. But relations between the host country Japan and the United States won’t be far behind.

Despite strong personal and security ties, the two allies have much that divides them.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

United States President Donald Trump was the guest of honor when he visited Japan in May.

He received an audience with the newly-enthroned emperor and a front-row seat for a special match of the ancient sport of sumo.

But on this trip for the G20, Trump will be wrestling with deep differences between him and his host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The U.S. is threatening to label Japanese car imports a threat to national security. Negotiating a bilateral free trade deal only made necessary by Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The talks are so sensitive in areas like agriculture that negotiations would not really start until after Japan’s legislative elections next month.

Full trade talks between Japan and the United States are likely to be held after this summer’s Upper House election, U.S. magazine Time has reported.

“Auto parts is not new. When I served in the Reagan administration I was very much involved in negotiations on auto parts. So, that’s been around for a long time,” said James Moore, the CEO and Founder of the Washington Institute for Business, Government and Society. ‘What’s a little bit different now is that there are so many problems that are out there. So, it’s one of many. And so, trying to tackle all this at the same time is very difficult.”

Abe and Trump are golf buddies, but it’s another relationship which worries Japan. Two summits between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un have largely ignored Japanese concerns. Abe is among the regional leaders who have not to have met with Kim.

Abe has invested time in Trump but has been embarrassed in public by Trump more than once. The Japanese Prime Minister is also worried about the economic fallout for Tokyo from the deepening trade war with Beijing.

“The Americans and the Japanese have got to be very sensitive, very empathetic to one another’s positions, to come up with an agreement that, ultimately, allows both of us to prosper at the same time,” Moore said.

The G20 countries represent about 90% of global economic output and around 80 percent of world trade. Washington’s stance with its allies, as well as with its competitors, will be under scrutiny as the Japanese hosts try and minimize differences and maximize the common ground between two of the world’s biggest economies.