The G20 Summit took place in Osaka, Japan last week. Leaders and guests from 19 countries and the European Union gathered at the Summit, including President Donald Trump. This year’s main themes included trade and investment, innovation, environment and energy, and women’s empowerment. Just like last year’s G20 in Argentina, the topic on everyone’s mind was the meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. After the meeting, Trump announced trade talks were back on and negotiations would continue in an effort to ease tensions between the two countries.
In terms of Latin America, it’s no surprise that Venezuela dominated talks on the region. Notably, the BRICS bloc, comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, discussed the possibility of helping broker a resolution to the political crisis in Venezuela, according to Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak. Storchak said that the BRICS would like to “bring the sides in dispute to the negotiating table.” Considering BRICS countries support opposing leaders in Venezuela (Russia, China, India and South Africa recognizes Maduro as President while Brazil recognizes Juan Guaidó), it remains to be seen how effective this negotiation would be. Talks were amicable but seemed to lack substance.
Andres Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, declined to attend the summit but sent Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and Finance and Public Credit Secretary Carlos Urzúa in his place. Despite his absence, the president sent a card that urged G20 leaders to contribute to the debate on migration issues. More on migration came after Russia’s Vladimir Putin—who used the G20 as his stage to claim that liberalism was obsolete—stated that immigration was infringing on other people’s rights, and Trump’s 2016 election victory was largely due to disenchantment with mainstream liberal ideals. Putin’s comments angered many, including President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who stated that anyone who claims that liberal democracy is obsolete “also claims that freedoms are obsolete, that the rule of law is obsolete and that human rights are obsolete.”
Although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Japan’s first G20 a success, this year’s summit revealed deep divides and unfinished agendas that will likely hinder international efforts to tackle major issues of popular importance in the future.