Trump and Abe seek a Bilateral Trade Agreement between America and Japan to Replace TPP

Trump and Abe seek a Bilateral Trade Agreement between America and Japan to Replace TPP

Chika Mori and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan is optimistic of cementing an even closer relationship with America under President Donald Trump. This is based on the backdrop of changing political times in Washington under the new Trump administration – and this relates to America pulling out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other dynamics in relation to geopolitics and trade. Hence, Abe is keen to preserve the strong relationship between America and Japan, therefore, unlike other TPP nations including Australia; it appears that Japan will also ditch the TPP based on Trump pulling out of this trade pact.

America is equally intent on strengthening bilateral trade agreements with nations stretching from Japan to the United Kingdom. Yet, unlike past trade agreements involving America, the Trump administration is intent on implementing trade pacts that benefit both parties based on greater equilibrium.

Japan News in reference to a Reuters article says, “Trump, who took office last Friday, reiterated on Thursday he would strike numerous bilateral deals, as opposed to multilateral accords like the TPP. He said they would include clauses to allow a 30-day termination notice if the United States was not treated fairly.”

It is known that Abe wants to reinvigorate relations with the Russian Federation but the bureaucracy – and political traditions of past governments – isn’t easy to overcome in relation to the territorial dispute between both nations. Despite this, Abe is keen to overcome obstacles in order to boost economic and geopolitical ties with the Russian Federation. Therefore, with the Trump administration looking more inwardly the nation of Japan is keen to preserve and strengthen ties with America in order to maintain “its geopolitical ace,” while expanding ties with India, the Russian Federation, Vietnam, and others, respectively.

According to various reports, it appears that Abe will meet Trump in Washington in early February. A spokesperson at the White House said, “We look forward to Prime Minister Abe’s upcoming visit and a productive relationship with Japan.”

Abe in the past believed that the TPP was a vehicle for reforming the internal economy and being a trade pact that would counterbalance China. Other nations in the TPP including Australia had sole firm economic convictions. Hence, Australia is touting China for stepping in based on Trump pulling America out. Yet, it appears that Japan will follow suit and then the China card being played by Australia will probably become extinct. In other words, the TPP without America and Japan is a very pale shadow.

Of course, much remains up in the air because the Trump administration is in its infancy. Despite this, it would take a huge turnaround for Trump to listen to Japan and stay in the TPP. Therefore, it appears that the future meeting between Abe and Trump will cement ties even further between both nations but more on an even footing in the area of trade – and this reality will be based on a bilateral trade agreement that is in line with Trump’s economic logic.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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