During the weekend, the Asian-Pacific nations embraced the dream of free trade. Today, President-elect Trump buried it.
Last weekend, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit made it clear that it would move forward with trade pacts; with or without the US.
Right after the Lima summit, President-elect Donald Trump unveiled his plans for the first 100 days in office, which focus on campaign promises that will not require congressional approval. Among his first actions, Trump said he would “issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Transpacific Partnership” and replace it with negotiating “fair bilateral trade deals”.1
Trump campaigned on a promise to halt the progress of the TPP trade deal. The world is different after his triumph – including world trade.
From Berlin Wall to Trump Wall
In the late 1980s, as the Cold War eclipsed in Europe and regional trade blocks surfaced around the world, Australia called for more effective economic cooperation across Asia Pacific, which led to the first APEC talks.
In Washington, neither Asia nor APEC was yet a priority. Rather, the focus was on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which would tie together the economies of the US, Canada and Mexico. “We have got to stop sending jobs overseas,” warned presidential candidate H. Ross Perot in 1992. “There will be a giant sucking sound going south.” But unlike Trump, he appealed to only one tenth of Americans.
About the Author
Dan Steinbock is the founder of the Difference Group and has served as the research director at the India, China, and America Institute (USA) and a visiting fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more information, see http://www.differencegroup.net/