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Trump ends TPP, will China gain?
January 24, 2017, 9:00 am

The TPP has not been popular among many Republicans and some sectors of the US workforce. People attend a rally protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Maui, Hawaii, the United States, July 29, 2015 [Xinhua]

International media pundits are warning that America’s retreat from the Asia-Pacific as it abandons the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not only indicative of US President Donald Trump’s commitment to isolationist and protectionist policies, but also paves the way for other countries to step in and fill the vacuum.

On Monday, Trump signed an executive order to withdraw from the TPP, which has been a cornerstone of Barack Obama’s policy to counter China’s growing global influence.

Countries which had signed on to the TPP less than a year ago, such as Australia, Brunei, Vietnam, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Chile and Japan are now wondering what kind of trade relationship will exist with the US.

Japan, Mexico and Australia have already signaled that they will try and keep it functional and/or modify it into something similar.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told journalists that there is also an opportunity for China to join the TPP.

But many of America’s allies who initially signed on to the TPP have expressed concern that it could fall apart altogether if Washington withdrew.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had previously signaled that America’s withdrawal from the treaty would amount to its demise.

“There’s no doubt that there would be a pivot to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) if the TPP doesn’t go forward,” Abe told an upper house committee, according to the Japanese Kyodo news agency, in November.

RCEP groups the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States.

“The RCEP doesn’t include the United States, leaving China the economy with the largest gross domestic product,” he added.

Chinese officials have said that Peru and Chile had signaled interest in joining the RCEP.

The China-proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) is now likely to be in focus as the TPP appears to crumble.

Calling the TPP unfair and damaging to US economic prospects, Trump signaled in November following his election win that he would negotiate bilateral trade treaties with different countries in order to bring jobs back to the US.

His renewed pledge to withdraw from the TPP also comes a day after a final communiqué from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima, Peru reaffirmed the member states commitment to free trade and combating protectionism.

Meanwhile, Trump has signaled his intention to sign another executive order to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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