Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe. It's our lucky 65th edition.
In search of a deal? Trump and Xi at Mar-a-Lago. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
If President Trump’s dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday at the G20 summit is make-or-break, Trump is giving every indication he’s prepared for, or even prefers, the latter option.
Between the lines: Trump told reporters before taking off for Argentina that while China is interested in striking a deal, “I don't know if I want to do it” because “I like the deal we have now.” He says he’s already planning to raise existing tariffs from 10% to 25% on Jan. 1 — and impose a huge swathe of new ones if the meeting doesn’t go well. Absent a breakthrough, this trade war is about to get brutal.
Politico’s Ben White writes, Trump’s trade war is “slamming parts of the American economy, especially in Midwestern and farm belt states that helped propel him to the White House.”
What a deal looks like …
Bob Davis and Lingling Wei report in the Wall Street Journal that the sides have discussed potential “partial agreements,” like those reached with the EU and Japan to stave off auto tariffs. It's unclear if Trump is prepared to sign such a deal.
Ely Ratner argues in Foreign Affairs that “any agreement in Argentina will be a tactical pause at best, providing short-term relief to jittery stock markets and beleaguered U.S. farmers, but having no material or long-lasting effect on the slide toward a high-stakes geopolitical competition between the United States and China.”
Putin and his shadow in St. Petersburg. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Image
President Trump cancelled the other headline act from his trip to Buenos Aires — his meeting with Vladimir Putin — with a tweet from Air Force One:
"Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!"
Trump's decision comes five days after Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels, and 24 sailors, in the Kerch Strait between Crimea and Russia. It also came just hours after his former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The U.K. Treasury released an analysis on Wednesday concluding that, under Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal, the country's GDP would be 3.9% smaller after 15 years than if it remained in the EU. If Parliament rejects May's plan, though, and the U.K. crashes out without a deal, GDP would be 9.3% smaller after 15 years.
So what do the British people make of it all? According to one poll ...
So remain wins the day, right? Wrong.
The bottom line: Does that make any sense? No. But none of this does. May's argument is now, "take our deal, it's worse, but not too much worse" — and she's making more sense than just about anybody else!
"Looks like it's canceled. No, not the match — the Trump-Putin meeting." Photo: Gustavo Ortiz/picture alliance via Getty Images
One man Trump is still slated to meet in Buenos Aires is the conference's host, Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Gabe Lipton of GZERO Media explains in the latest Signal newsletter why a recent "fútbol fiasco" — when fanatic supporters of River Plate attacked a bus carrying members of the rival Boca Juniors — came at a terrible time for Macri.
Zoom out: The business-friendly Macri is attempting a careful balancing act between his domestic and foreign audiences, amid an economic crisis that has seen Argentina fall into a deep recession.
Zoom in: Saturday's championship match was supposed to be an opportunity to showcase Argentina’s soccer prowess and escape the gloom of the spiraling domestic economic situation. Instead, it was postponed after the melee and will now take place outside of Argentina.
The bottom line: Macri intended to use the high-profile G20 summit to reassure foreign leaders and investors that Argentina fundamentally remains a good bet. A toxic cocktail of sport and class rivalries has just made that a harder sell.
As debate rages in Washington and around the world about how to slow or end the war in Yemen, the country continues to teeter on the edge of a debilitating famine, Axios' Haley Britzky writes.
The big picture: The UN has said for months that Yemen is on the brink of famine, and the heads of major humanitarian organizations say the U.S. will share responsibility "for the deaths of many more Yemeni civilians" if significant action isn't taken.
Go deeper: Declan Walsh files from Sanaa for the New York Times: "The problem isn’t a lack of food; it’s that few people can afford to buy what food is available."
From L-R: Five Star's Di Maio, Prime Minister Conte, Lega's Salvini. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
Italy's populist government is offering only limited concessions to the European Commission, which rejected Rome's big-spending budget last month and said the country risked "sleepwalking into instability."
Where things stand: The budget includes a deficit target of 2.4% of GDP, which Brussels says is too high for the debt-strapped country. Finance Minister Giovanni Tria has said the government must consider “the fears of our European partners," but Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said today that the government wouldn't consider bringing the target below 2.2%, per Bloomberg.
Michele Geraci, Italy's undersecretary of state for economic development, argued today at the Peterson Institute that what Brussels fears is a scenario in which economic growth is lower than the Italians project, bringing the 2.4% figure up to, say, 2.9%.
The bottom line: Geraci says the standoff has been more about "personality and politics than economics" and is already dying down. "If you have an argument, once you start smiling, usually the other guy starts smiling back at you," he said.
Istanbul, where the meeting took place. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Image
A special envoy from the Israeli Foreign Ministry held a secret meeting in Istanbul with Sudanese officials a year ago as part of an attempt to renew the dialogue between the two countries, a source briefed on the meeting tells Axios contributor Barak Ravid.
Why it matters: Israel is the only country in the world that Sudan does not allow its citizens to visit legally. Sudan used to host Hamas' headquarters and was an ally of Iran, but since 2014 it has started to distance itself from Tehran and pivot toward Saudi Arabia. In response, Israel began in 2016 to quietly lobby the U.S. and EU members to boost economic aid to Sudan.
In my special report from the Republic of Georgia last month, I wrote that "the strength of Georgia's democracy and of its all-powerful ruling party will be put to the test in ... what is sure to be a bitter runoff."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
“It has been a long journey, from the fear of acceptance, and today hopefully advocacy, knowing my treatment keeps me healthy and that it protects any partner I have."— Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a member of the British parliament, revealing he is HIV positive in an effort to reduce the stigma
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