The minds of the world leaders are turning to trade and the heightened tensions between China and the United States at the Group of 20 meeting in Japan.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged Donald Trump over dinner on Thursday night to strive for a resolution when the US President meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit in Osaka.
He echoed remarks he made before leaving Australia that the dispute and tit for tat tariffs between the two economic giants was damaging other countries.
Mr Trump was asked at the start of the dinner whether he recognised his “America first” policies, especially on trade, hurt allies like Australia.
“I think I can say very easily that we’ve been very good to our allies,” he told reporters.
But Australian hopes for a quick resolution at the G20 gathering which begins on Friday seem to be fading.
In an early morning media blitz, Mr Morrison talked up the prospect of sealing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal with the 10 ASEAN countries and six others in the Indo-Pacific, not including the US.
“As long as the discussions continue (between the US and China) I will remain optimistic but I think it is also an opportunity to reflect on what the broader opportunities are in the region and our trading partners throughout the region are all here as well,” he told ABC TV.
And he told Nine Network the RCEP took on a “renewed prominence” in the current context.
He discussed the deal with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe earlier on Thursday, with the two leaders committing to finalising it, following talks with Singapore’s leader Lee Hsien Loong when they met a couple of weeks ago.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, who was also at the dinner with Mr Trump, said Australia acknowledged it could not fix the trade dispute.
“What we can urge them to do is try to resolve those tensions and to work through the various issue,” he told ABC’s Radio National.
“The PM will make that point again today in the plenary session of the G20, which you would expect both President Trump and President Xi to be at.”
He said it was clear Australia’s economic growth was now lower than it would have been if the trade spat hadn’t happened.
Mr Morrison is also expected to tell other G20 leaders they all have to play a part in solving modernising the World Trade Organisation.
Australia is seeking to build on the momentum from last year’s G20 and set a benchmark for future success so that the global trading system is in better shape, not worse, with economic projections being revised upwards within a year.
“All of us in this room have a critical stake in ensuring our trading system works and is durable,” the prime minister will say.
“The system needs the confidence of its members and it is clear that is no longer the case. We can’t let that mean we slip into a further deterioration in key trading relationships and the collateral damage that would bring.”