When it comes to international relations, there is mainly business & economics and national security. There is no fine line what areas of these two lead the other. However, Trump’s original economic & business protectionism with America first, then all the flip-flops, originated from Trump, seen by much observer as a “Man-Baby” meaning, does not know what he is doing, from mainly being “Transactional” that stems from his many regressive & flawed political philosophy coupled with equally regressive & flawed management tactics, is alienating America’s friends and ally. This reports points mainly to Asia as an example.
When announcing his candidacy in June 2015, Trump said that his experience as a negotiator in private business would enhance his ability to negotiate better international trade deals as President. Trump identifies himself as a “free trader,” but has been widely described as a “protectionist“. Trump has described supporters of international trade as “blood suckers.”
Trump’s views on trade have upended the traditional Republican policies favoring free trade. Binyamin Appelbaum, reporting for the New York Times, has summarized Trump’s proposals as breaking with 200 years of economics orthodoxy. American economic writer Bruce Bartlett writes that Trump’s protectionist views have roots in American history, a view supported by Spencer P Morrison, who notes that the Republican party was founded with a protectionist platform. Likewise the Canadian writer Lawrence Solomon describes Trump’s position on trade as similar to that as of pre-Reagan Republican presidents, such as Herbert Hoover (who signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act) and Richard Nixon (who ran on a protectionist platform).
Trump has called the World Trade Organization (WTO) a “disaster”. When informed that tariffs in the range of 15 to 35 percent would be contrary to the rules of the WTO, he answered “even better. Then we’re going to renegotiate or we’re going to pull out.”
On January 23, 2017 Trump withdrew from the TPP trade deal citing the need to protect American workers from competition by workers in low-wage countries. During the campaign, Trump vowed to impose tariffs — in the range of 15 to 35 percent — on companies that move their operations to Mexico. Trump has pledged “swift, robust and unequivocal” action against Chinese piracy, counterfeit American goods, and theft of U.S. trade secrets and intellectual property; and has condemned China’s “illegal export subsidies and lax labor and environmental standards.” In a May 2016 campaign speech, Trump responded to concerns regarding a potential trade war with “We’re losing $500 billion in trade with China. Who the hell cares if there’s a trade war?” During the campaign, Trump condemned the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that if elected president, “We will either renegotiate it, or we will break it.”
While all of the above are statements by Trump, in recent months, Trump has backed-off from those positions, giving a variety of reasons. For example with China, Trump is touting good relations as a way to gain China’s help on North Korea. For example, there is the new Sino-American trade deal that appears to have vindicated this softer approach that is starting to bear fruit. The two-page plan of action calls for the lifting of the 13-year embargo Beijing had kept on American beef, as well as gradually opening the Chinese market to certain US financial services. As important as they may be, these developments are not entirely new. Plans to lift the beef embargo had already been agreed to in principle last September under former President Barack Obama. The only truly new development was the plan to speed up direct exports of American liquefied natural gas to China, delighting some in the American hydrocarbon industry.
By Japan Times (source)
Actions of ‘TPP 11’ likely to influence Japan-U.S. trade talks
BARI, ITALY – With U.S. President Donald Trump tapping into populist anger at globalization and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Japan has been exploring ways to move the pact forward with the 10 remaining members.
Calling the TPP “a thing of the past” for the United States, Vice President Mike Pence signaled an eagerness to start negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan, given Trump’s preference to handle trade issues bilaterally to better reflect the interests of U.S. industry and workers.
The trade ministers of the now 11 TPP countries are planning to meet later this month in Vietnam in a test of their resolve to bring the high-standard agreement into force amid concerns about protectionist sentiment being fanned by Trump’s “America First” policy and Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.
Preceding that meeting, the Group of Seven finance chiefs apparently failed to narrow the gap between the Trump administration’s call for “fair” and “reciprocal” trade and other members’ concerns about its stance, which is widely viewed as protectionist.
“We don’t want to be protectionist, but we reserve our right to be protectionist to the extent that we believe trade is not free and fair,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Saturday after two days of talks with his counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan in Bari, Italy.
Given Washington’s stance, discussions among the “TPP 11” will be closely watched because they could affect dealings between Japan and the United States on trade, especially as Tokyo is cautious about the Trump administration’s call for a bilateral FTA.
Trump administration officials have criticized Japan’s import tariffs on farm products and accused Tokyo of maintaining nontariff barriers in its automobile market, in an effort to reduce the hefty U.S. trade deficit with Japan.
Citing Japan’s fear that a two-way deal would expose it to U.S. pressure to further open politically sensitive sectors such as agriculture, James Schoff, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank, said, “I don’t think a bilateral FTA is feasible in the near term, but perhaps the U.S. and Japan can quietly negotiate elements of the TPP at a bilateral level and implement them.”
“A lot depends on how TPP 11 proceeds,” Schoff said. “If it gains momentum, that will put pressure on the U.S. to deal with Japan more along the lines of the original deal.”
Finance Minister Taro Aso has expressed hope the United States will return to the TPP, saying there is “no guarantee” that the Trump administration would win better terms under a bilateral pact with Japan because a multilateral framework like the TPP allows members to offset concessions made with one country with advantages gained from another.
Referring to Japan’s efforts to implement an 11-member TPP, create an Asian FTA called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and reach an early conclusion in FTA negotiations with the European Union, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker said the U.S. absence from these initiatives would generate “a certain degree of pressure” on Washington in light of a possible loss in U.S. competitiveness in the Japanese market.
“With the expectation that (increased goods and services) will enter Japan from Asia, Europe or Australia and New Zealand, the United States appears to be wondering if it is alright to just maintain its current policy,” LDP Deputy Secretary-General Yasutoshi Nishimura told a recent Brookings Institution forum in Washington.
Already, a Japan-Australia FTA, which took effect in 2015, lifted exports of Australian beef and wine to Japan by 30 percent and 12 percent, respectively, in the January-September period of 2016 from the same period in 2014, according to the Australian government.
Of the 11 TPP members, Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam are among the 16 nations negotiating the RCEP.
Nishimura, a former trade ministry official, said it will be virtually impossible for Japan to make further concessions to the United States on farm products and automobiles beyond what it accepted in the TPP negotiations under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
Schoff commented that bilateral talks going forward “could create friction as the U.S. negotiators might feel pressured by Japan’s tactics.”
Speaking at the Brookings forum, former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara urged the Trump administration to reconsider the strategic significance of the TPP because its failure would allow China — a non-TPP party that has been building its clout through the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank — to write the trade rules for the Asia-Pacific region.
“What is important is who leads the rule-making,” said Maehara, a member of the opposition Democratic Party, citing the treatment of state-owned enterprises and other areas covered by the TPP that China is apparently reluctant to take up. “I think it’s vital to make sure that China will follow our rules.”
Similarly, U.S. lawmakers such as John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, have warned that withdrawing from the TPP — a major campaign pledge by Trump — would create a leadership vacuum China would be quick to fill and would rattle the confidence of U.S. allies in the region.