The US is seeking “stronger and more balanced bilateral trade relationships” such nations such as Japan and South Korea, reveled Pence on Tuesday. The Vice President continued further to indicate the possibility of commencing bilateral talks with Tokyo and revisiting a deal that was already confirmed with Seoul.
Pence’s comments, which were directed at business leaders in South Korea and followed by his meetings with Japan’s prime minister and his deputy this past Tuesday, are closely aligned with Trump’s promises of an “America First” policy.
Despite the amicable tone of their meeting, Japan and the US seem to have dissimilar agendas in terms of the route they intend for their trading relationship.
Upon taking office earlier this earlier this year, Trump withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact. Pence maintained this stance on Tuesday as he proclaimed TPP to be “a thing of the past.”
In the place of prior measures like TPP, Pence suggested the possibility of creating a bilateral deal with Japan—which is slightly ironic as, on multiple occasions, Trump has accused Japan of partaking in unfair trade practices. Last year, the US’ trade deficient with Japan reached an amount of roughly $69 billion.
Tokyo, on the other hand, seems intent on re-enforcing TPP—without the US.
Chief Cabinet Secretary, and one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s closest aides, Yoshihide Suga has revealed that the Japanese government is contemplating an attempt to revive the TPP. Thus, Abe appears to have changed his mind after making a prior claim that the TPP would be “meaningless” without the membership of the US. The TPP was originally created with the intent of uniting 12 Pacific Rim countries which currently make up 40 percent of the global economy.
Despite Abe’s initial verbalized weariness of a TPP without the US, the Japanese government has made a move to re-embrace it, claiming that it may be the best option for Japan at the moment. The latter is supported by Tobias Harris, a Japan analyst for Teneo Intelligence, a consulting firm. The option is notably more appealing to Japan, even without the US, than the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which is an alternative bloc headed by China.
Thus, a revival of the TPP would enable Japan to present itself as a leading force within the region and as an alternative to China, regardless of whether or not the US chooses to join the TPP again, according to a research note penned by Harris.
In the note, Harris stated that in addition to such, it also “gives Japan some leverage over the US in their bilateral economic relationship, while also leaving the door open for the US to join in the future.” Hence, this would be a power move on the part of China in displaying that they are not depend upon the US, but are also open to a collaboration.
Pence and Aso are set to meet again this year, and released a joint statement on Tuesday, in which they confidently informed the public that the talks “should generate concrete results in the near term.”
James Schoff, a Japan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, declared the economic dialogue between the US and Japan to be “aspirational.” He further communicated his thoughts on the matter in opining that there would also be a certain limit imposed upon the extent of the discussions until the Trump administration appropriately appointed an agricultural secretary and a trade representative.
Prior to journeying to Japan on Tuesday, Pence informed US and South Korean business leaders in Seoul That the Trump administration intended to reorganize the South Korea-US bilateral agreement referred to as “Korus.”
Pence explained the need for a restructuring of this bilateral deal between the nations as he stated that, “The United States’ trade deficit with South Korea has more than doubled since Korus came into effect. That’s the hard truth of it.”
“And our businesses continue to face too many barriers to entry, which tilts the playing field against American workers and American growth,” Pence declared, continuing on to affirm that Washington intends to work with Seoul to “reform Korus in the days ahead.”
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