Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Pacific trade partners 'are not counting on America'

Pacific trade partners 'are not counting on America'

While the speech offered little new policy and made no mention of Trump, Xi affirmed or expanded on proposals to increase imports, lower foreign-ownership limits on manufacturing and expand protection to intellectual property - all issues central to the USA president's trade complaints.

Whether or not the Trump team has accurately assessed its leverage - skeptics say Xi's speech amounted to little more than a rehash of old commitments - Chinese leadership does indeed appear to be rattled by the administration's hawkishness and unsure what to make of it.

"We welcome the United States coming back to the table, but I don't see any wholesale appetite for any material renegotiation of [the pact]", Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Steven Ciobo said.

In this light, the Trump administration hopes to get a better deal with the TPP, as Pacific Rim nations, which are highly exposed to trade with China, appear to be concerned with the possible trade disruptions and other spillovers of the US-Chinese dispute. Trump is no stranger to playing to the room, and the one he presided over Thursday was full of farm-state lawmakers and governors anxious about economic ravages of a trade war with China.

Trump had told Republican senators earlier in the day that he had asked United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow to re-open negotiations.

"The farmers and ranchers, they don't want welfare payments - they want to feed the world", Sasse said. He has previously said he might reconsider the deal.

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Trump's opposition to multinational trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement was a central part of his campaign for president in 2016 and accounted for some of his appeal to working-class voters.

Trump's decision on the TPP helped set the stage for the assault on NAFTA. "So strongly did he believe that the TPP was a awful deal for the US that he withdrew from it on his fourth day in office", he said. In 2015, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter compared the trade pact to an aircraft carrier in securing American interests in Asia.

"TPP would address so many issues, such as environmental, worker rights, public procurement, trade unions", Hauskrecht says.

"I think it's very important for people to realize, particularly given this most recent tweet, if there is a negotiation it will not be an easy one". "The real strategy we need is to lead all of those rule-of-law nations in the Pacific", he said.

Kenichi Kawasaki, a professor and senior fellow at the Tokyo-based National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, believes that including the US could help ratchet down trade tensions as a whole in Asia. The deal would have cemented geopolitical ties with key countries, helped set rules of the road for global trade, opened up markets for USA businesses and given the United States leverage against China, which was excluded from the deal.

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