10:39 GMT26 May 2020
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    US President-elect Donald Trump has reaffirmed his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying he will withdraw from the deal on day one of his presidency. This has triggered a series of reactions in the Asia-Pacific region, with speculation China may fill the void left by the US.

    Following scathing criticism of the TPP trade deal during his presidential election campaign, Trump released a video describing the trade deal as "a potential disaster for our country."

    In the video outlining his policy plans for his first 100 days in office, Trump said he would pull out of the TPP and instead "negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back."

    ​Trump's win in this month's US Presidential election led many political and economic figures to claim that the TPP — signed earlier this year by 12 Pacific-rim nations, including Australia, Japan and Singapore — is dead, leading to questions about the future of free trade in the Asia-Pacific region and whether some sort of deal can be salvaged.

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the deal would be "meaningless" without US participation, adding that the pact could not be renegotiated, as "this would disturb the fundamental balance of benefits."

    Support for China-Led Trade Deal

    There are also suggestions that countries in the region could realign their trade preferences in a manner that could see China step in to fill the void left by the US' expected departure from the TPP.

    Last week Abe told a parliamentary committee that if Trump went through with his pledge to back out of the TPP, then it could bolster plans for a China-led regional trade pact.

    "There's no doubt that there would be a pivot to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) if the TPP doesn't go forward," Abe said.

    ​"The RCEP doesn't include the United States, leaving China the economy with the largest gross domestic product," Abe added.

    The RCEP, which has been under negotiation since 2013, is a proposed free trade agreement consisting of 16 Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand and others.

    'Collapse of TPP Could Open Door for China'

    Meanwhile in Australia, where the major parties remain largely in support of the TPP, government officials have also spoken enthusiastically about expanding trade opportunities in the region, signaling support for the China-led RCEP.

    Canberra has not yet completely given up on the TPP, with Trade Minister Steve Ciobo saying the government would give Trump's administration time to reconsider its position.

    ​However in an opinion piece for the Financial Times, Ciobo acknowledged that the future of the deal was looking "grim," and said the country would explore other trade options.

    "With the future of the TPP looking grim, my ministerial counterparts and I will work to conclude a study on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, which sets out agreed actions towards a future free trade zone."

    ​Some political commentators have predicted a trade shift towards Beijing, with Dr. John Short, political analyst from the University of Maryland, telling Sputnik that the "collapse of the TPP may leave the door open for China."

    "Under the TPP agreement, China was purposely left out. So the collapse of the TPP may leave space for China to propose a new free trade agreement," Dr. Short told Sputnik.

    Related:

    Trump to Issue Executive Order on Day One of Presidency to Withdraw US From TPP
    How Collapse of TPP to 'Open Door for China' to Propose New Free Trade Deal
    New Zealand Expects Trump to Deviate From Campaign Pledges, Keep TPP - PM
    Anti-TPP Protests Taking Place in Peru Ahead of APEC Summit
    Tags:
    protectionism, trade deal, negotiations, free trade, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Shinzo Abe, Donald Trump, Asia-Pacific, Australia, China, Japan, United States
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