Accessibility links

Trump Wins Concessions On Climate, Trade As G20 Leaders Agree On Summit Statement

  • Rikard Jozwiak

HAMBURG, Germany -- U.S. President Donald Trump has secured key concessions on trade and climate in the final communique of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Hamburg, in what German Chancellor Angela Merkel characterized as a need for compromise.

Following a two-day summit in which tensions over climate and trade simmered, the 19 other members of the club of major industrialized and emerging economies acknowledged in the final summit statement on July 8 Washington's decision under U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord.

G20 leaders also conceded to the U.S. side's wish to include language on fossil fuels that other members of the club had balked at.

Addressing reporters on the second and final day of the summit, however, Merkel told news conference that she was "very happy" that all of the other members agreed that the Paris accord was "irreversible."

Describing the negotiations over climate and other issues as "complicated," Merkel stressed that her role as host included facilitating "compromise," adding that the group could "achieve more together than individually."

The final day of talks followed another night of violent riots near the venue -- clashes between antiglobalization activists and police that have overshadowed the summit of leaders of the world's major industrialized and emerging economies.

WATCH: Thousands March Against G20 Summit In Hamburg

Trade was another disputed issue during the talks, and the final statement left room for Trump to push forward with his "America First" trade policy, which has hampered consensus on globalization and trade since he took office in January.

A European Union official close to the negotiations told RFE/RL that aides worked until 2 a.m. on the G20 summit's joint statement before reaching consensus to include free-trade language on fighting "protectionism," which Washington had been reluctant to agree to, the official said.

But the communique included for the first time the right of countries to protect their markets with "legitimate trade-defense instruments."

Leaders attending the summit included Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and China's President Xi Jinping as well as European and Asian leaders.

The section on climate change had remained the subject of disagreement as leaders went into negotiations early on July 8. Reuters quoted an EU official as saying earlier on July 8 that there was a "critical mass of countries" that objected to including the reference to fossil fuels in the G20 communique.

The final statement included language sought by the U.S. side, noting Washington would "work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently."

The standoff over the climate issue came as world leaders this week stepped up pressure on Trump in the wake of his announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

"We are not renegotiating the Paris agreement -- that stays. But I want to see the U.S. looking for ways to rejoin it," British Prime Minister Theresa May told the BBC.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left to right), European Council President Donald Tusk, and U.S. President Donald Trump joke at the beginning of the third working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg on July 8.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left to right), European Council President Donald Tusk, and U.S. President Donald Trump joke at the beginning of the third working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg on July 8.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that Paris will host a summit on December 12 to make further progress on the 2015 Paris climate agreement and to mobilize private and public financing for projects committed to in the agreement.

Macron was also quoted as saying that he still hoped to convince Trump to change his mind about withdrawing from the agreement.

On the final day of talks, Merkel, Putin, and Macron agreed during a working breakfast that a cease-fire deal for eastern Ukraine, known as the Minsk peace accords, must be implemented.

At the end of the summit, Merkel said that there was no glossing over the fact that there had been "very, very slow" progress in implementing the accords aimed at ending years of fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Merkel said she would hold four-way phone talks with the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and France following a more procedural conversation with Macron and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Putin, who held talks with Trump in a highly anticipated meeting the previous day, met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and, separately, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker later on July 8.

An EU official told RFE/RL that the Putin-Juncker meeting was "an open and frank meeting between the two leaders, who know each other for many years, on issues of common interests."

Meanwhile, Merkel said that "deep differences" remained between her and Erdogan after they met on the sidelines of the summit.

She stressed that Turkey’s role in managing the migrant crisis and other conflicts were "honored" at the gathering of leaders.

Merkel added that Turkey's mass arrests of alleged state enemies after last year's coup attempt and a dispute centered on a NATO base show "deep differences" that were not swept under the table.

The first day of the Hamburg meeting was overshadowed by rioting and vandalism by small factions of radicals among an estimated 100,000 antiglobalization protesters who took to the streets of Hamburg.

As Trump and Putin met for more than two hours on the sidelines of the summit on July 7, smoke hovered over the city from dozens of torched cars and barricades that were set on fire by demonstrators outside.

WATCH: Trump, Putin Hold Extensive First Talks On Sidelines Of G20

After a day of burning, looting, and other havoc by radical protesters -- including members of the anticapitalist Black Bloc movement -- police managed to clear the streets of downtown Hamburg by the early morning of July 8 using armored vehicles, water cannons, and tear gas.

Authorities said more than 200 police had been injured in the violence in recent days and more than 200 demonstrators had been detained.

Despite the unrest on the streets, Trump praised Merkel's handling of the summit in comments at the start of the second day, saying the German chancellor had "been amazing and done an incredible job."

"Your leadership is absolutely incredible and very inspiring," Trump said.

Trump has previously appeared to have tense relations with Merkel and has slammed the U.S. trade gap with Germany and Berlin's military spending relative to its gross domestic product, criticism that has angered the German political establishment.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, TASS, and Interfax
  • 16x9 Image

    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak covers the European Union and NATO for RFE/RL from his base in Brussels.​ Write to him at rikard.jozwiak@gmail.com

     

XS
SM
MD
LG