Trump's protectionism puts US economy in danger: China Daily editorial
Demonstrating they can stand together when the need arises, Asian countries united on the weekend in opposition to the United States' unilateral trade actions and their "debilitating implications for the multilateral trading system".
At a meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, co-chaired by Japan and Singapore, trade ministers and officials from 16 countries renewed their commitment to the regional free trade pact and pledged to accelerate negotiations on the outstanding issues in order to reach a basic agreement in time for their meeting in Singapore at the end of the year.
Five years have passed since the idea of the RCEP was first raised in 2012, but negotiations among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian nations, Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, have proved challenging. Divergences over tariffs, trade in services and investment rules, and intellectual property rights protection, as well as concerns about China's influence, have previously proved a drag on reaching an agreement.
However, the actions of the Trump administration have spurred efforts for the countries to bridge their economic and political differences so they can come together for the common good, and it now seems that the RCEP will finally materialize to make the region a flagship for free and fair trade.
And in a separate development on the weekend, the tariff-cut amendment of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement became effective Sunday, with China's Ministry of Commerce saying it would facilitate regional economic integration in Asia and provide new economic impetus for the APTA members. According to the adjustment, the six APTA members — Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, the Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka — have cut tariffs by an average of 33 percent on products under 10,312 tariff codes, with some products from less-developed Bangladesh and Laos enjoying special reductions of 86 percent.
These developments show countries in the region are dedicated to upholding free and fair trade, which although it is something US President Donald Trump often claims to be doing, is clearly not the case since his administration's actions belie his words.
Indeed, not only have those actions put the US at odds with countries in Asia, where it has been keen to make itself at home, but they are increasingly alienating the US from the global trading system that it established – and tilted in its favor.
It seems that Trump in seeking the humiliation and weakening of the US' trade competitors, is willing to not only see the US dishonored but also its own economy injured.