G-20 Leaders Set to Reach Compromise on Trade at Summit

By Emre Peker and Andrea Thomas Features Dow Jones Newswires

World leaders are set to vow to fight protectionism and secure fair trade at the Group of 20 summit, officials said Saturday, as the world's major economies sought to defuse President Donald Trump's threats of unilateral measures.

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The broad consensus comes after marathon meetings resulted in compromises on deploying defensive measures for balanced trade and a recognition of the U.S.'s split from the other G-20 members on climate change.

Securing Mr. Trump's support for the G-20 communiqué, to be released later Saturday, as the president threatens to undermine the international order with his "America First" policies is emerging as a rallying cry as the two-day gathering in Germany draws to a close.

"The communiqué is overall a good achievement because all the fundamentals are there," a European Union official said, as concern that the U.S. would be isolated from the rest of the group largely faded. "We have a G-20 communiqué, not a G-19 communiqué."

Another official from a European delegation said the talks had shown that a new international consensus on economic issues could be slowly rebuilt despite the challenges thrown by Mr. Trump's election.

"All things considered, my impression is that we're getting back in small steps in many areas to a greater degree of business as usual," the official said. The U.S. wasn't alone in having different views on trade, the official added, pointing at the consensus on securing a level playing field as a common stance forged at the summit.

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Keeping the U.S. in the fold, leaders overseeing 80% of the global economy are seeking to work more closely on challenges ranging from a glut upending steel markets to the migration crisis and imbalances driven by globalization.

Yet in a sign of the difficulties ahead in satisfying Mr. Trump's demands, G-20 members wrangled for days to find a joint position on climate change in the aftermath of Mr. Trump's decision to discard the Paris agreement to curb global warming. In the end, they are poised to split the difference.

Germany, which holds the rotating G-20 presidency this year, led the "very difficult" negotiations to reaffirm 19 members' commitment to the Paris accord while accommodating Mr. Trump's stance on clean energy, officials said.

Mr. Trump's negotiators asked to include a line on the U.S. helping other countries "access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently," the EU official said. That reference remains the only sticking point in the summit conclusions to be hashed out by leaders.

"The inclusion of this paragraph is the trade-off of having a consensual approach," the EU official said. "Obviously, to have in the text a reference to these kind of energy sources is not something we like."

Write to Emre Peker at emre.peker@wsj.com and Andrea Thomas at andrea.thomas@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 08, 2017 07:42 ET (11:42 GMT)