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Asia Minute: New Tack for Asia Pacific Trade?


President Trump is considering re-engaging with what was once called the Trans Pacific Partnership. But that process may not be a simple one. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

When the United States backed out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, 11 other countries kept going with negotiations. The result was a slightly different deal with a different name—the “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership” was signed last month in Chile.

The Trump Administration is highly unlikely to accept that deal without changes.

Several media reports say he has instructed his staff to evaluate rejoining the agreement “on our terms.” Exactly what that means remains unclear, as does the reaction from some of the countries which are signatories to the existing document.

Australia’s Trade Minister told the Wall Street Journal“I can’t see all that being thrown open now to appease the United States, but we would welcome the U.S. coming back to the table.”

Australia and Japan took on leadership roles in the trade discussions once the United States dropped out.

President Trump has stated his preference for one-on-one trade deals rather than broader multi-lateral agreements. Many of the Asia Pacific countries would prefer the United States be involved in a multi-lateral approach.

Credit Wikimedia Commons
President Trump welcomes South Korean President Moon Jae-in

One undeniable factor: the sheer size of the American economy would change the impact of any trade deal. One calculation is that the eleven member agreement as currently constructed impacts more than 13-percent of the global economy.

With the United States, that figure would be about 40-percent.

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