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Asia Minute: Trade, Not Tariffs for Latest Asia Pacific Deal

Gobierno de Chile

When it comes to news about trade, most of the focus this week has been on President Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Elsewhere, a number of other countries signed a multi-lateral trade deal that will actually REDUCE tariffs in the Asia Pacific. But the United States is not part of it. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The trade deal formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership has picked up a few adjectives and a signed membership of eleven countries.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership covers half a billion people, and was signed in Chile on Thursday; the same day President Trump signed a document triggering tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Chile’s foreign minister called the Pacific trade agreement a strong signal “against protectionist pressures, in favor of a world open to trade.”

The new steel and aluminum tariffs from the U.S. will not initially include Canada and Mexico—both members of the new trade group.

Australia also signed the trade deal, and officials there hope they can avoid U.S. tariffs. President Trump said somewhat cryptically Thursday that Australia is “a great country, a long-term partner,” adding “we will be doing something with them.”

Another U.S. ally hoping for an exemption: Japan—which also signed the new trade agreement; along with Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile and Peru.

Credit Minseong Kim / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
South Korea's Ministry of Trade building

One country watching developments closely is another U.S. ally still hoping to avoid metal tariffs: South Korea. Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy says the country will decide whether to join within a year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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