Donald Trump expressed his plans about the US leaving TPP. His announcement has caused dismay and fear in the region. On the other hand, his announcement is good news for China.
Donald Trump revealed last Monday in a video his plans for his first day of office. One of the things he will do is withdraw from the pan-Pacific free trade deal. The US leaving TPP is part of his promise to put America first in his agenda.
However, his move will also put the reputation of the United States on the line. Unless he doesn’t know, the Obama administration has spent years urging its allies to sign the deal. The US leaving TPP will question the reliability of America’s words. This will also strengthen China’s cause to compare the reliability of America’s word to Beijing’s promises.
Left at the Altar
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long said that the move to the US leaving TPP will be likened to a groom waiting for his bride at the altar. Sadly, the bride did not arrive.
“Each one of them has overcome some domestic political objection, some sensitivity, some political cost to come to the table and make this deal,” Lee said, “If at the end, waiting at the altar, the bride doesn’t arrive, I think that people are going to be very hurt.”
On the other hand, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that without the US, the TPP would be meaningless. Abe has just arrived from a meeting between TPP leaders in Lima, Peru. He said that there was no discussion whether they will put the agreement into effect without the United States.
The US leaving TPP is in China’s best strategic interest. It does not only mean the loss of American backing in the trade deal but so much more. It brings many questions regarding the real intentions of America. Does Trump intend to champion a fair and inclusive rule-based system?
This is just one of the questions that needed an answer in the near future.
Photo Courtesy: Gage Skidmore