Asia Reacts to President Donald Trump's Executive Order on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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On January 23, 2017, Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to formally end the United States' participation in negotiations concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A multilateral trade deal encompassing the Asia Pacific region, the TPP negotiating members include: Japan (the only country to have domestically ratified the agreement), Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. 

Click on a country to jump down to its specific reactions: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New ZealandPan-Asia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

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“’We should begin to talk very seriously about what the ANZUS treaty means. […] We have participated in every single war that America has waged since 1951, in all of those wars, none of our objectives have been achieved. […] Australia has got to wake up to the fact that we are part of the Asia Pacific as never before. Our future, our security and our prosperity is here.’” – Dr. Allan Patience, Principal Fellow, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne

“With low or zero tariffs in Australia and many other countries, the TPP and other trade agreements now seek to restrict governments from regulating global corporations in the public interest. Most of the TPP's 30 chapters restricted government regulation in areas such as medicine prices, internet policy, financial regulation, government purchasing and temporary migrant workers. The TPP gave global companies the right to bypass national courts and sue governments for millions of dollars in unfair international tribunals. It extended monopolies on biological medicines for an extra three years, delaying cheaper versions of those medicines. This is not free trade but extension of monopoly rights.”

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull indicated the 11 remaining countries could look to include China as a possible replacement for the US, the world's largest economy, as he mounted a strong defence of free trade on Tuesday. ‘Certainly there is the potential for China to join the TPP,’ Mr Turnbull said, noting he had ‘active discussions’ with other leaders, including Japanese PM Shinzo Abe on Monday, about resuscitating the doomed trade agreement.”

“TPP member Australia said China and Indonesia could join in the vacuum left by the United Sates. The TPP had yet to come into force with many countries still to ratify it. ‘The original architecture was to enable other countries to join,’ Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday. ‘Certainly I know that Indonesia has expressed interest and there would be scope for China if we are able to reformulate it,’ said Ciobo.”

“At the heart of all government decisions lies a revealing glimpse of its priorities. By pursuing the TPP while stalling on genuine reform of the childcare sector, the Turnbull administration have shown that they are really only interested in helping major corporations achieve their goals while ignoring the needs of regular Australians. Alternatively, by ripping up the TPP, Donald Trump has given the Australian Government an opportunity to reassess its priorities. I hope Malcolm Turnbull will seize this opportunity and get on with the real work of government; representing the Australian people, not just the major corporations that design our global trade deals.”

“As you were, Australia. Prices won’t rise or fall because US President Donald Trump withdrew America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Why? Well, for one, it hadn’t started. So there is nothing to reverse or undo. Two, it was well known The Donald was going to kill it off (don’t forget Hillary Clinton wanted to do the same). So the TPP was dead in the water even before today. That means there’s no shock element — that’s why the Australian dollar hasn’t flinched.”

“Economist Dr. Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP, said the impact of the mega trade deal between 12 Pacific Rim countries would only have been marginal if passed. […] ‘I doubt it would have had a huge boost on the Australian economy anyway,’ Dr. Oliver said. ‘The easy gains from free trade with cheaper Mazdas are long in the past. The benefit of this would have been marginal. I don’t think it’s a disaster for Australia, it would have been nice in theory but I don’t think it’s a huge loss.’”


“On the decision by the Trump administration to quit the Transpacific Trade Partnership (TPP), Cui [Tiankai, China’s Ambassador to the United States] refuted the notion that China will take over the U.S. role as the global leader who makes the rules of trade in the future. ‘I think this is a misleading notion, because international trade rules cannot be made by the United States or China alone, and rather, they should be made and implemented by all nations in the world,’ Cui said.

“China said Tuesday that it was committed to the process of Asia-Pacific economic integration in a spirit of openness, inclusivity and transparency, despite the United States quitting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). ‘China will forge ahead with the negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the construction of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) so as to add new impetus to regional and global economic development,’ said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a daily press briefing.”

“Zhou Shijian, a senior researcher at the Institute for International Relations of Tsinghua University said the next one or two years were a perfect opportunity for China to speed up progress on another regional trade agreement it is backing, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP]. ‘China should grab the chance, which will not last too long before Trump figures out [his mistake of dropping the TPP],’ said Zhou.”

“But the relief will be minor and fleeting, according to Jiang Yong, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. ‘Despite all the talk about how the US would challenge China with the TPP, the deal didn't really have much substance that could threaten China as many had feared,’ Jiang told the Global Times on Tuesday. He said though China was not part of the TPP, it has relatively healthy bilateral trade relations with most of its signatories, including the US.  What's more worrisome, according to Chinese experts, is the Trump administration's shift from multilateral trade deals to bilateral trade agreements, as well as its protectionist trade policy and tough stance on China.”

“But Trump's hasty chase after US interests, in disregard of anything else, may pose bigger long-term risks to China. After Trump withdrew from the TPP, he said he would pursue bilateral trade deals. Nonetheless, China, Japan and Mexico are among the US trade partners that drew the most criticism from the Trump team. China may be the primary target, because in the eyes of Trump's team, China has the largest trade surplus with the US and bilateral trade with China is the most "unfair" relationship. They expect China to make concessions on trade by maneuvering the Taiwan question and the South China Sea disputes. From this sense, there is no reason for China to hail the "death" of the TPP. Trump may carry out tougher measures, and we should not have the illusion that the US will cede the privilege of rule-making of international trade to China.”


“Nor will China or India derive significant benefits from the demise of TPP, other than a short-term respite. The urgency to complete RCEP will now diminish, and it is possible that greater complacency will set in regarding the need to rethink trade in a more protectionist global environment. TPP - while no boon for India - offered the best hope for a more openly competitive international trade order from which India, with its competitive wages and underutilized potential, still has possibly the most to gain. This sentiment was echoed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi only last week. "Walls within nations, a sentiment against trade and migration, and rising parochial and protectionist attitudes across the globe stark evidence," he said. "The result: globalization gains are at risk and economic gains are no longer easy to come by." All in all, Trump's withdrawal from TPP will likely be remembered as a significant step in the slide towards a more protectionist world.”


"‘Our emphasis going forward is more on a bilateral economic cooperation between the Republic of Indonesia and the US. It would be a comprehensive bilateral cooperation, including for trade and investment.’"- Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Deputy Secretary, Office of the Vice President


“‘We will, of course, persistently continue to approach America about TPP, but just because we do so doesn’t mean other options aren’t available. […]We will navigate any kind of bilateral negotiation based on the belief that agriculture is the foundation of our country.’” – Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

“It is the role of Japan, the world’s third largest economy, to help the Trump administration realize that it is reasonable and in America’s best interest to promote free trade through multilateral cooperation. Both the public and private sectors need to use their respective communications channels to make this case to the Trump administration in the weeks leading up to the meeting between Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, expected to soon be held.”

"‘We think that we have been making considerable efforts to integrate ourselves into the United States, so do we have to accept the same criticism we received 30 years ago?’"- Senior Executive at a Japanese automaker

“Instead, the United States will reportedly seek bilateral trade deals with TPP signatories. But such deals would serve as no substitute for the TPP, an accord under which a large number of countries would share high-standard trade and investment rules. It is appropriate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to have said, ‘I’d like to resolutely pursue his [Trump’s] understanding’ on the strategic and economic importance of the TPP.”

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko argued that Trump’s assertions are groundless, saying, ‘In non-tariff aspects as well, Japan does not treat [U.S. vehicles] with discrimination. We will look for opportunities to thoroughly explain this [to the U.S. government],’ the economic minister added, making clear his intention to tenaciously negotiate with the U.S.”

"‘I believe President Trump understands the importance of free and fair trade, so I'd like to pursue his understanding on the strategic and economic importance of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade pact.’" – Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

“‘If that fails [bringing the United States back into negotiations], Japan needs to put energy into negotiating a bilateral pact with the United States, while as a second option pursuing a mega-FTA like the TPP without U.S. participation.’”- Satoshi Osanai, Senior Economist, Daiwa Institute of Research


“CAP [Consumers Association of Penang] urges the government to confirm that it will no longer join the TPPA and instead withdraw from the [TPPA Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement], given the new situation of the US withdrawal; that it will not rush into negotiating a bilateral FTA with the US; and that it will stop its measures to implement changes in laws and policies that were planned to implement the TPPA.”

“Second Minister of International Trade and Industry Ong Ka Chuan said the 11 countries, excluding the US, were talking to each other. ‘Twelve countries signed the TPPA, but now one wants out. The other 11 can continue by making a change to the clauses. There are many possibilities that these 11 countries can still proceed with,’ Bernama reported as he saying.”

“Should the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) fail to take place, it will signal a missed opportunity for Malaysia, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed. Malaysia, he said, was one of clear winners earmarked in the TPP. ‘Our negotiating team had managed to secure a number of valuable concessions while at the same time protect our national interest including the Bumiputera policies.’ Malaysians, he said, should and must take comfort in knowing that they have a highly capable negotiating team ready to defend Malaysia’s interest in any future bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations.”


"'He [Trump]'s going to be pro development and pro growth in the US and, although that might sound like a negative, it will benefit Kiwi exporters [...] New Zealand had a very good deal out of the TPP - if it had been ratified - and although it looks like it is dead to a lot of people, I'm not convinced that's the case. The thing that's often missed is that Trump is saying the US will do bilateral deals outside of the TPP but the TPP was actually a series of bilateral deals.'" - Mike Petersen, New Zealand's Special Agricultural Trade Envoy


Japan, Australia, and Malaysia work to rally their domestic populations and fellow TPP members to go ahead with the TPP without the United States after President Trump’s executive order.

Reactions from TPP members Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam on the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on the US withdrawal from TPP negotiations. 


“According to [Ceferino] Rodolfo [Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry], the feared advantage over the Philippines that Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei would have enjoyed with the US will be negated now that the latter is no longer part of the agreement. […]Rodolfo said the Philippines also becomes a more attractive alternative site for companies located in China due to US-Sino tensions.”

“Gui Feria, co-founder of ‘Penbrothers,’ said Trump's policies, such as tighter immigration applications into the US, bodes well for a local labor environment that wants to keep homegrown talent within its borders. ‘If there's tighter (policies on) visas in the US, it could be that great talent from the Philippines would not immigrate to the US and stay home and create good things out here,’ he said in an interview with "‘Mornings@ANC.’"

“Without the US in that massive free trade bloc of 12 nations, we Filipinos can continue dealing with it on our own, making decisions clearly beneficial to us and backing away from arrangements that we can correctly or vaguely claim to be against provisions of our Constitution and our interests.”

Mahamoud Islam, a Senior Asia Economist at Euler Hermes, discusses whether or not the Philippines will be negatively affected by the United States’ withdrawal from TPP negotiations.

“’I can tell you right now that our president [Rodrigo Duterte]  cares for any Filipino, not only in the Philippines, but around the world — he cares for them. If you’re asking me what our policy is right now, we have to respect the new administration, they are still in a transition. We have to wait and see which policies they will push forward, which policies they announced during the campaign…we respect the political and democratic process here in the U.S. and as I mentioned, non-interference.’”- Martin Andanar, Philippine Communications Secretary

“‘No one seems to be raking President Duterte over the coals nowadays with the unexpected triumph of Trump, who won on a campaign message of US protectionism and scaling down American engagement in international trade blocs in order to save jobs in the US. With the TPP’s uncertain fate, President Duterte’s China pivot could not have come at a better time, especially with the Philippines chairing the Asean [this year] on its golden anniversary as a regional trade bloc.’” Carlos G. Dominguez III, Finance Secretary


“Seoul also should brace for demands for renegotiation on the bilateral FTA. During his campaign, Trump accused the bilateral FTA with Korea of wiping out 100,000 jobs in the United States. The government must muster all its negotiation capacities to keep up its reputation as an FTA powerhouse with 15 trade deals with 52 nations.  A conflict between the United States, a traditional security ally, and China, Korea’s biggest trade partner, does not bode well for Korea. Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP also suggests his opposition to the Pivot to Asia, with the United States poised to engage less in the affairs of the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. phase-out instead could strengthen China’s regional influence. Global trade could be drawn more to the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.”

“Another source with the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-SURE) said the US’s departure meant ‘the return of an opportunity that South Korea very nearly lost.’ In other words, the possibility of trade disadvantages for South Korea, which previously opted not to participate in the TPP, have now disappeared.”

“He [President Trump] has also denounced the FTA with South Korea as a job destroyer, hinting that he would seek to revise the terms. In a recent annual government-level meeting on discussing pending trade issues over the Kore-U.S. FTA, which took effect in 2012, the two sides did not mention any possibility of renegotiations. However, experts are still worried that the Trump administration may target the Seoul-Washington FTA, citing that Asia’s fourth-largest economy posted US$23.3 billion in trade surplus with the U.S. last year, accounting for 26 percent of the country’s total trade surplus. Also, the massive trade surplus may lead the U.S. government to designate South Korea a currency manipulator after putting China on its list in coming months.” 


“Following that move, Taiwan's Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Tuesday that the government will continue its efforts to expand bilateral economic and trade relations with countries in the region and actively participate in regional economic cooperation.”


“Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the office, said one positive indication was Trump’s clear announcement that the United States will leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership, of which Thailand is not a signatory, while Thai export competitiveness could improve if the Chinese yuan strengthens.”

"’US investors insist they will keep investing in garments, shoes and electronics, not only in Thailand, but in Asean. As for the TPP, a US withdrawal will not affect Thailand, as the country is not yet party to the pact. Instead, the RCEP trade talks are expected to be expedited without TPP.’” - Apiradi Tantraporn, Commerce Minister 


“‘Vietnam will continue to attract foreign direct investment in labor intensive firms as well as those that want to capture the burgeoning domestic market.’” – Trinh Nguyen, Senior Economist, Natixis SA, Hong Kong

Additional Topics in the Asia Reacts to... Series

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's Trip to India and the Philippines
Secretary of State John Kerry's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
Donald Trump's Comments on Possible Nuclear Armament of Japan and South Korea
 Nominations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump 
 Donald Trump's First Foreign Policy Speech
 President Barack Obama's First Visit to Vietnam
President Barack Obama's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Fourth Visit to the United States
 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Deployment
2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions
President Barack Obama's Final Trip to Asia 
 First Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
Second Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Final Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States
President-Elect Donald Trump's Talks with Asian Leaders
 The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump 
US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord 
 President Donald Trump's First Visit to Asia

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