Under the “America First” banner, President Trump has promised a reset of U.S. trade policy, focusing heavily on negotiating a string of bilateral trade agreements. For trade-dependent economies in Asia with close ties to the United States, like Japan and Taiwan, this moment of disruption in international trade presents both risks and opportunities. The U.S.-China trade war and the increasing bifurcation of high-tech platforms present major challenges for the Japanese and Taiwanese economies, both at the center of global supply chains and with advanced technological capabilities. On the other hand, a bilateral trade agreement with the United States offers a chance to leave behind market access irritants and deepen bilateral ties.
Japan and Taiwan, however, are not starting at the same place. Japan has concluded two mega trade agreements and has just come to a preliminary agreement on a trade deal with the U.S., while Taiwan is interested in launching negotiations to ameliorate its economic and diplomatic isolation. What challenges must be overcome to forge a trade agreement? Can the U.S. articulate an effective bilateral trade strategy in Asia?
On Tuesday, September 17, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings, the U.S.-Japan Research Institute, and the Global Taiwan Institute co-hosted a panel of experts to discuss these issues. Panelists also examined how Japan and Taiwan have weathered the tariff trade war and how they can prepare themselves for a protracted U.S.-China economic conflict.
Following the discussion, panelists answered questions from the audience.
Professor and Dean, Graduate School of Financial Management - CTBC Business School
Professor, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies - Waseda University
Managing Director - Rock Creek Global Advisors
Former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific - USTR
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The crux of [America's China] strategy is to advance interests, uphold values, and strengthen cohesion with allies and partners. One hopes that the Biden administration will be able to move discussion from questions of toughness to measures of effectiveness in delivering tangible results.