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President Trump likely to skip G20 in June

There is a widespread speculation that U.S. President Donald Trump will miss the Group of 20 summit to be held in Osaka in June. It seems he will not visit Japan if the visit will yield nothing of benefit to his campaign for next year’s presidential election.

 

The key will be prospects for the new free, fair, and reciprocal (FFR) trade talks between Japan and the U.S. and the trade talks between the U.S. and China. The former is still at the stage of trying to reach an early agreement on trade of goods. So President Trump’s wish of getting a completely satisfactory response from Japan is unlikely to be granted in June.

 

Meanwhile, President Trump said in early April that the latter will be settled “in another four weeks.” But the U.S. and China are still negotiating whether a summit in the final phase should be held in Washington or in Beijing. China is cautious about the possibility of President Xi Jinping losing face by visiting the U.S. because President Trump is likely to overturn the prior agreement. The U.S. also thinks that an agreement in Beijing would give the impression that the U.S. made concessions and that a visit to China on the sidelines of the president’s attendance at an international conference or in conjunction with a visit to another country is the maximum accommodation that could be made.

 

The most likely options for the president to visit China are “on the sidelines of his visit to Japan in May” and “on the sidelines of the Osaka G20 in June.” It seems that the president thinks visiting Osaka in June is meaningless if an agreement is not reached in the U.S.-China trade talks in Beijing.

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