Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung via Getty Images

Three things happened last weekend that deserve brief comment. First, the Group of 20 (G20) was able to produce a joint communique. Small cheese you might say, but it’s better than either the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), or the Group of 7 (G7) could do and therefore no minor accomplishment despite its anodyne content. What was there and what was missing were both significant. The “there” included the first-ever reference to the necessary reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and an acknowledgment that the institution was not fully doing its duty, along with a clear reference to the importance of acting on climate change, although that was tarnished by the explicit U.S. dissent in the next paragraph. The “missing” included the previously non-controversial statement about opposing protectionism. This leads to three conclusions.

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