Project Syndicate

The Year Ahead 2018

The Trumping of Asia

Precisely how other regional power players – China, Japan, India, and possibly Australia – respond to the self-inflicted decline of US influence on the Asia-Pacific region remains to be seen. But the uncomfortable truth for those observing the region closely is that many countries have already begun to move decisively toward China’s orbit.

CANBERRA – In the last year, the single most pointless wound inflicted by the US on Asia, not to mention itself, was its abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In one fell swoop, the once great free-trading nation that was the United States of America died, leaving the global trading system utterly rudderless.

With America’s spurning of the TPP, not only was progress toward further trade liberalization reversed; the global free-trade system itself, including its common rules and arbitration mechanisms for resolving disputes, came into question.

You don’t have to be a Marxist to understand that economics has a profound and probably even decisive impact on politics, both national and international. And, indeed, the geopolitical and geo-economic implications of US President Donald Trump’s move are just beginning to be felt across the Pacific.

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