The leaders of the G20 countries, who will have to make hard discussions about the rules of worldwide trade over the next two days, have been generously greeted with authentic Argentine souvenirs and local treats upon their arrival to Buenos Aires, the summit's organizers said.
The group of 20 accounts for 85% of the world's GDP and two-thirds of its population.
The president has also repeatedly said that should a deal not be reached, his administration stands ready to further escalate the USA tariffs imposed on China.
The G20 is made up of the world's 19 biggest economies and the European Union.
G20 leaders opened annual talks on November 30 stalked by the deepest divisions since their first summit 10 years ago, with US President Donald Trump under fire for destroying the group's past consensus on trade and climate change.
A substantive deal between the United States and China could mark a major feat for the G20 summit, where expectations for collective action have been low.
Meanwhile, a massive security operation is under way for the summit in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, where a bank holiday has been declared for Friday and the city's main business district has been shut down.
U.S. objections on those fronts have seen two major summits this year, of the Group of Seven democracies and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, end without the once-routine statements.
Mr Trump has repeatedly accused the Chinese of stealing trade secrets and American intellectual property by compelling USA companies to hand over intellectual property in order to do business.
On climate change, the American president holds different views from numerous other G20 leaders.
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A White House spokeswoman later denied that Trump said the ships' seizure was the "sole reason" he cancelled the anticipated meeting.
The Kremlin said it had not been notified and only learned about it from the tweet.
But while Trump's abrupt decision quashed concerns that the President would repeat his cozy performance alongside Putin during their last meeting in Helsinki, Finland, new allegations by the President's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen revived questions about Trump's financial ties to Russian Federation as he arrived for the worldwide summit.
Trump engaged in a chat with other leaders, while Putin had a good laugh together with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and even "high-fived" him after the G20 "family photo".
Speaking in Buenos Aires, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he would be surprised if the dinner was not a success, but it would depend entirely on the two presidents.
As soon as he arrived, the crown prince was confronted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who pressed him on the Khashoggi investigation and the Saudi-backed war in Yemen. Oil prices have slid in recent weeks on concerns of softening global growth caused by the US-China trade war.
If Ukraine was the stated reason to cancel his talks with Putin, the latest revelations in the probe showed that Trump can not escape the lengthening shadow of what he again called the "witch hunt" at home when he comes to worldwide fora like the G20.
"I believe in our capacity to make the spirit of dialogue and cooperation triumph", Macron said at a joint news conference with Macri, warning that if nations "close down", the alternative could be trade wars or armed conflict. However, it is being reported that Ms Merkel still plans to have her one-on-one with Mr Putin, with the pair set to meet on Saturday morning.
Oil markets will also be closely watching a bilateral meeting between Putin and Saudi Prince Mohammed on Saturday afternoon for any sign of a breakthrough in a deal for Russian Federation to participate in a production cut by the OPEC oil cartel next month.