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Asia watches rise of Donald Trump with trepidation

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20 Mar Asia watches rise of Donald Trump with trepidation

SIIA Chairman Simon Tay was quoted in a Straits Times feature by Nirmal Ghosh, the Straits Times’ Indochina Bureau Chief, on how Asian countries are responding to the rhetoric of Republican front runner Donald Trump. The article appeared in The Sunday Times and in The Nation on 20 March 2016. An excerpt is below.

The US turning anti-free trade is not good news for countries in the region working hard to free up trade to boost growth.

In 2013, US trade with the 10-member Asean, in goods and services, totalled US$241.7 billion (S$328 billion), the US Department of Trade says on its website. The US imported more from the region, at US$141.2 billion, than it exported to it. With Mr Trump promising to use tariffs and taxes to keep manufacturing jobs in the US, that trade surplus could be threatened.

The TPP for one thing, is supposed to be ratified by the US Congress this year; in the current mood, that outcome is far from certain – and any push back to the next administration would as good as kill it, analysts say.

“If the TPP is not done in this final term (of President Barack Obama), it will never be done,” said Professor Simon Tay, chairman of the think-tank Singapore Institute of International Affairs. He said, however, that Mr Trump in his rhetoric “is merely amplifying the voices. And Clinton has had to respond by also questioning the terms of trade”.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0