Asia-Pacific countries look for signs of hope in Trump trade policy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their summit at the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 2017
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s (L) active courtship of U.S. President Donald Trump has helped keep their two countries’ trade relationship from deteriorating (source: dpa)
  • The Trump administration’s protectionist moves worry Asian countries
  • There are signs that Washington could soften its stance
  • If it does, the U.S. would lose less influence in the region

When it comes to international trade and investment, the story of United States President Donald Trump’s first two years in office has been one of intensifying protectionism.

The implications for Asia are complex. Partly because they have other options and partly because of domestic political dynamics, U.S. trade partners in Asia will not simply buckle to Washington’s demands. These countries will seek compromise where they can, but they will also hedge against the uncertainty by expanding and formalizing links with other partners. If left unchecked, this dynamic will, over time, marginalize U.S. influence in the region.

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