China says ready to play global leader; Trump orders to withdraw US from TPP

Donald Trump

Washington, January 24: US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order to officially withdraw US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

Trump called the move “a great thing for the American workers”, local media reported. “We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying as he signed the order.

The TPP, a free trade pact between 12 Asia-Pacific countries, was formally signed by ministers from these 12 countries in last February after more than five-year-long negotiation.

Trump’s action was considered as a symbolic move, as the US Congress hasn’t approved the deal yet. However, the move indicated that the new administration is actually shifting trade policies from previous US norms.

According to the trade strategy put forward by the Trump administration, the strategy starts by withdrawing from the TPP and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The White House also said it will pursue trade deals which are in the interests of American workers and crack down on nations that violate trade agreements and harm American workers.

TPP is meaningless without US participation: Japan

Meanwhile, the Japanese government on Tuesday said the Trans-Pacific Partnership was “meaningless” without Washington’s participation after the US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to withdraw from the multilateral trade agreement.

“The TPP is meaningless without the US because it would lose the fundamental balance of benefits,” Japanese government spokesman Koichi Hagiuda told the media.

However, Tokyo insisted that it will try to convince the Trump administration of the advantages of being integrated into a framework such as that proposed by the TPP, which sought to unite Japan, the US and 10 other countries in the Pacific basin – such as Mexico, Peru or Chile – in the world’s largest free trade zone, Efe news reported.

“Trump is aware of the importance of free and fair trade. We want to help him understand the strategic and economic merits of the TPP,” Hagiuda added.

The US alone accounts for 60 percent of the combined GDP of the 12 signatory states while Japan, for its part, accounts for 20 per cent.

Earlier this week, a top Chinese diplomat said that China is prepared to take the helm of the global economy if the Western nations abdicate their leadership role. The comment came after U.S. President Donald Trump pledged in his inaugural address to put “America first.”

If it’s necessary for China to play the role of leader, then China must take on this responsibility,” Zhang Jun, head of the Chinese foreign ministry’s office of international economic affairs, told a small group of foreign reporters in Beijing.

Zhang made the comments following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip last week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he cited trade protectionism as “locking oneself in a dark room” and defended economic globalization in a speech.

Even, during his election campaign, Trump promised to never sign massive trade agreements like the TPP, which he said would “destroy” US manufacturing. He also vowed to renegotiate NAFTA and threatened to levy hefty tariffs on Mexico.

Australia to continue TPP particpation

Following US President Donald Trump’s overnight decision to axe America’s involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, effectively leaving the deal in its current form ‘dead in the water’, Steve Ciobo said other remaining nations have opened up discussion lines about a potential replacement, as the Trump decision was “not unexpected”.

“A number of us had a conversation about a possible ‘TPP 12 minus one’ in other words, the Trans-Pacific Partnership minus the US in order to keep hold of the gains we’ve been able to agree (upon),” Ciobo has said.

“I’ve had conversations with Canada, Japan, Mexico, with New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. I know there have been conversations with Chie and Peru.

“There are quite a number of countries that have an interest in looking to see if we could make a ‘TPP 12 minus one’,” the minister said.

The Trade Minister also hinted at the possibility of introducing a new, or multiple new nations, into the agreement; he told the ABC there has been interest from Indonesia, while China may also be approached.

Earlier, Trump had said on Sunday that he would soon meet leaders of Mexico and Canada to discuss the renegotiation of NAFTA.

At a meeting with business leaders on Monday, Trump also said that the administration will impose “a very major border tax” on companies that are shifting production overseas.

International institutions, such as World Bank and International Monetary Fund, have warned that the inward-looking policy and protectionism could be a threat to global growth.

Wefornews Bureau

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