If asked what will be the most consequential meeting this weekend in Argentina at the G-20, you might have a hard time making up your mind. You’d have good reason to choose a) the Trump-Xi bilateral. But b), the gathering to sign the new Nafta deal, could also go awry. If you are like me, you are relieved that c), the Trump-Putin meeting, is now off the table.

We should certainly be concerned about what will transpire when President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping have their sit-down. The prospects for diffusing the trade war look slim, but one can assume the Chinese have given serious thought to how they might take advantage of the American president’s impulsiveness and the lack of policy process in the U.S. They could present Trump with a face-saving deal to roll back tariffs. This would upset his advisers who are looking to force a “decoupling” between the two economies, but such a proposal would appeal to the president’s desire for quick wins. Still, it’s not the most likely outcome of this encounter. The more likely possibility is that the meeting will lead to greater tensions — and then more tariffs…

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