China state media warn Trump against renouncing free trade deals

Will the Republican establishment come back to serve in a Trump administration? Trade does cause dislocation and makes some workers worse off, but the harm caused by the trade wars Trump might provoke would be vastly greater.

The TPP intentionally excluded China; it was a central part of outgoing President Barack Obama's push to boost USA influence in the Asia-Pacific region. But now it looks doomed, with Congress refusing to ratify it and Trump having vowed to kill it.

"As you can imagine, the issue of the day will consume a lot of the energy", said Scott Miller, a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies who previously advised the USA on APEC matters. While the TPP has left out China, the RCEP would give China greater economic prestige in a region where it is seeking to displace USA influence.

"The Asia-Pacific zone of free trade will be open, inclusive, and will incorporate all".

"The U.S. potato industry can compete with worldwide growers, processors and distributors if the playing field is level", said NPC vice president. China didn't take part in the talks.

Washington is critical of the Beijing-backed regional deal saying it will have lower standards and fewer protections. It covers 16 nations, accounting for nearly 30% of global GDP and more than a quarter of world trade.

During the APEC summit held in Beijing 2014, APEC members agreed to start a joint strategic study of the FTAAP, marking the official launch of the region-wide free trade area process. It can increase the number of exports from the USA and bolster the gross domestic product.

Sun Xiao from China's Chamber of International Commerce blamed unequal distribution of free trade's benefits for rising protectionism, and suggested it would be different under Chinese leadership. But after the UK's Brexit vote and Trump's anti-immigration victory in the U.S., global appetite is waning for the looser immigration rules India wants for its consulting sector.

More generally, if the Trump administration were to implement economic policies that precipitate "a decoupling of Asian economies from the US", then Asian partners could begin to hedge more toward Beijing, Sumpter said. "Other countries will move forward with RCEP and American companies will be at a disadvantage".

United States President-elect Donald Trump had said TPP, from his perspective, was a disgusting deal. Days earlier, Beijing indirectly chided Trump for his views on global warming, which the president-elect has called a Chinese hoax to hurt USA manufacturing.

Malcolm Turnbull speaks during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2016 CEO Summit in Lima, Peru, on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016.

On the face of it, China appears pleased at the opportunity it's been given.

Tuesday's editorial in the government-published China Daily newspaper called the Xi-Trump chat "propitious", noting that Beijing is "understandably relieved that the exclusive, economically inefficient, politically antagonising TPP is looking ever less likely to materialize".

Under Trump, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is likely dead- and some analysts says USA credibility on trade issues in Asia has been damaged.

"This may well become a bone of contention between India and other RCEP members going ahead", Kishore said.

  • Jacqueline Ellis