By Isaac Cohen*
President Donald Trump concluded a twelve day trip to Asia, which took him to five countries: Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Upon his arrival in Vietnam, President Trump received the news that the eleven member governments of the TransPacific Partnership decided to proceed, without the United States, with the implementation of the agreement, signed in 2016. The United States absence was due to the decision adopted by President Trump, on the third day after his inauguration, to withdraw from the TransPacific Agreement.
The Japanese government, whose Parliament ratified the original agreement, declared through the Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono, as quoted in The New York Times, the new agreement will “serve as a foundation for building a broader free trade area.” In fact, the 11 participating governments—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam—represent one sixth of global trade and 16 percent of the world economy.
The door was left open for the United States to join the new agreement, when it decides to do so, but given its present protectionist policy stance this is not expected to happen during this administration. However, there may be a change, when US exports will confront greater obstacles. For instance, as described in The Wall Street Journal, US beef exports to Japan will pay a 50 percent tariff, while Australian exports will pay only 27.5 percent. This means some of the biggest losers will be US agricultural states where President Trump won a year ago.
*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media. Former Director, UNECLAC Washington.