Donald Trump’s ‘terrible mistake’ inadvertently empowered China

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the centrepiece of President Barack Obama’s strategic pivot to Asia. Before President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in 2017 – on his third day in office – the TPP was set to become the world’s largest free trade deal, covering 40 percent of the global economy. For its supporters, such a deal would have expanded US trade and investment abroad, spurred economic growth, lowered consumer prices, and created new jobs, while also advancing US strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

However, its critics, including Mr Trump, saw the deal as likely to accelerate US decline in manufacturing, lower wages, and increase inequality.

With the US on the sidelines, the remaining TPP countries have forged ahead with a new version of the pact, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), keeping most of the original intact.

Mr Trump signaled in early 2018 that he would be willing to reenter TPP discussions under certain conditions, but he quickly backtracked and observers see the possibility as unlikely.

In an exclusive interview with, Jonathan Aronson, a trade expert and Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at USC Dornsife, claimed it was a “terrible mistake” for Mr Trump to withdraw from the partnership.


Professor Aronson argued that by joining the TPP, the US President could have arguably taken on China’s unfair trade practices and secure America’s economic role in Asia.

He said: “I was a big supporter of the TPP.

“Trump pulled out and it was a terrible mistake because it empowered China.

“It also took away a lot of incentive for Vietnam to behave.

“Vietnamese behaviour has not been as good.

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“What they were trying to get was access to US markets.”

Prof Aronson added: “I think there might be an effort to rejoin in the future if Joe Biden wins the election.

“However, it will not be a year one priority.

“It is not easy to join something you have left.”

Ties between China and the US reached their lowest point in decades this month, signalling what experts in both countries believe is the clear direction for one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world.

Under the Trump administration, the US has put sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong while also increasing engagement with Taiwan, including arms sales.

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A trade deal to end a protracted tariff war has stalled and the US has placed more restrictions on Chinese state media.

The US presidential race appears to be coming down to the wire in battleground states.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has won California, Oregon and Washington, traditionally “blue” states that carry a whopping 74 Electoral College votes combined.

However, Mr Trump looks to be competitive in, if not winning, the big states of Florida and Texas, and other results all point towards the rust belt states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan being where the election will be won or lost.

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