Russia-Ukraine crisis clouds G20 summit in Buenos Aires

"I think China wants to make a deal".

G20 powers have descended on Argentina for two days of talks, dominated by US President Donald Trump's efforts to realign world trade, while eyes swing to the sidelines where Western leaders will meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for the first time since Jamal Khashoggi's killing.

He will press Chinese President Xi Jinping to avert the stepped-up tariffs by throwing open China's markets to USA competition and protecting foreign companies' intellectual property.

Trump has threatened to raise the existing 10% tariff on $250 Billion of imported Chinese goods to 25% in January if the countries fail to end the dispute with the threat of new tariffs on an additional $267 billion of goods not now subject to tariffs.

Trump is looking for concessions on issues such as alleged intellectual-property theft and exploitative trade practices, while Xi hopes Trump will delay or scrap plans for new tariffs on Chinese goods.

USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer has indicated that he was exploring the possibility of raising U.S. tariffs to match those imposed by China.

Kudlow's comments come after Trump reiterated a threat Monday to tack on duties on an additional $267 billion in Chinese exports if a trade deal isn't reached.

On Wednesday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer slammed Beijing for failing to offer "meaningful reform" on aggressive trade policies, and threatened tariffs on Chinese autos.

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In addition to meeting with Xi, Trump will also meet in Buenos Aires with his Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macri, and with the leaders of Germany, Turkey, Japan, South Korea and India.

U.S. -China trade talks led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been on-again, off-again several times, but Trump is slated to talk trade with Xi himself at the Argentina G20.

US President Donald Trump with UK Prime Minister Theresa May during a session titled Fair and Sustainable Future. "I think the more likely surprise is they make more progress than what markets are expecting".

There is doubt that a separate planned encounter at the G20 between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will even go ahead, after Russian security forces boarded and detained three Ukrainian vessels.

USA tariffs on steel and aluminum remain in place, but a Canadian official said an advantage to signing onto the agreement now is an auto side letter exempting Canada of potential tariffs on exports of up to 2.6 million vehicles - well above current levels.

Voice of America reporter Steve Herman said on Twitter: 'I was sitting in the press filing center here in Buenos Aires and we heard this rumble and saw the chandeliers sway slightly.

The pause scenario, Goldman says, means: "existing tariffs remain in place but the two sides agree to keep talking with escalation put on hold", the analysts wrote.

For Trump, there was no escape from the lengthening shadow of the USA investigation over Russian meddling in his 2016 election, which is now reaching into his business affairs.

  • Sonia Alvarado