Donald Trump junks Trans-Pacific trade deal: What global media is saying

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New Delhi: As promised during his campaign, one of the early policy decision taken by President Donald Trump is to sign an executive order to formally withdraw US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The move, as Bloomberg points, “is a sledgehammer blow to former President Barack Obama’s attempt to recentre US foreign policy from the Middle East to Asia.” While the deal may benefit the cause of US manufacturing, Washington’s exit from the region creates a political and economic void that may be filled by China.

Here is how the international media has reacted on the Trump administration’s decision:

¦ The New York Times: “With the stroke of a pen on his first full weekday in office, Mr. Trump signaled that he plans to follow through on promises to take a more aggressive stance against foreign competitors as part of his “America First” approach. In doing so, he demonstrated that he would not follow old rules, effectively discarding longstanding Republican orthodoxy that expanding global trade was good for the world and America—and that the United States should help write the rules of international commerce.”

It further adds, “Mr. Trump’s decision to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or T.P.P., reversed a free-trade strategy adopted by presidents of both parties dating back to the Cold War, and aligned him more with the political left.”

¦ The Wall Street Journal: “In one respect, Mr. Trump’s action was symbolic, because congressional leaders and the Obama administration had signaled after the November election that there was no path forward for the TPP. Still, that symbolism was large for an administration that wants to show it is serious about jettisoning decades of mostly steady trade liberalization in favor of more confrontation with China and other trading partners, with the potential for big tariffs if those countries don’t come to the table ready to make concessions. Mr. Trump and his advisers have eschewed multilateral trade blocs.”

¦ The Washington Post: “Trump’s opposition to the TPP is one of his few consistent political positions… A retreat from the TPP now gives Beijing, which has been negotiating its own trade blocs, a chance to fill a void. Since Trump’s election, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia have shifted toward China’s proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would also reduce tariffs—without many of the standards put in place by Obama’s plan—and redirect Asian trade China’s way. Other nations in the region are likely to follow suit.”

¦ Al Jazeera: The Republican leader is looking to shift attention firmly back to his policy agenda after a first few days that put his incoming administration on the back foot.

¦ The Guardian: “Trump’s decision not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) came as little surprise. During his election campaign he railed against international trade deals, blaming them for job losses and focusing anger in the industrial heartland. Obama had argued that this deal would provide an effective counterweight to China in the region.”

¦ Vox: “Donald Trump is walking the walk… The move fulfills one of Trump’s signature campaign pledges to get out of the sweeping 12-nation trade deal, which he once deemed “a rape of our country,” and marks a major blow to the Washington consensus on free trade.”

¦ USA Today: “Protectionist trade policies didn’t work in the Depression. They won’t work now… These are also misguided moves likely to harm the U.S. economy far more than they help… It is hard to imagine a more counterproductive policy for America’s economy and national security interests than pulling out of the TPP, which was already on life support in Congress. President Trump’s protectionist trade policies might benefit a sliver of U.S. manufacturing workers, who have been hurt more by automation than by trade. But protectionism is likely to set off rounds of retaliation that will end up harming the American economy as a whole and raise prices on imported goods, increases that will be most harmful to lower income people who voted for Trump.”

¦ CNN: “Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from TPP is also a first step in the administration’s efforts to amass a governing coalition to push the new President’s agenda, one that includes the blue-collar workers who defected from Democrats and flocked to Trump’s candidacy in November. The move could also put many Democrats—particularly those who opposed the trade deal—in a tricky position as they look to hold on to union support, a key constituency in their political coalition.”

¦ Foreign Policy: “Even after his election, big business and agriculture groups were lobbying Trump to rethink his opposition to the pact. Ironically, given the Trump administration’s hawkish stance toward China, abdication of the TPP will likely make life easier for Beijing. China was not a part of the TPP, which would have covered 40 percent of the global GDP.”