EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) marks a fundamental change from Barack Obama’s priorities. It could also create a policy vacuum in Asia, as the US is no longer the driving force behind regional integration. China, which sees new opportunities in the American withdrawal, is attempting to foster its own integration schemes – but it remains unclear whether it will be able to replace the US as the world’s globalization leader.
The “America First” slogan was not mere pre-election rhetoric for Donald Trump. His consistent opposition to multilateral free trade deals and support for the introduction of tariffs on foreign products and services arguably signals the beginning of a new era of protectionism (indeed, a Brookings paper has called for a reevaluation of the future of globalization because Trump “could reverse decades of global trends”). Countries with large export surpluses with the US, such as China, Germany, and Mexico, have been at the epicenter of Trump’s criticism. Scenarios of trade wars have entered the political and media discourse.
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