According to the White House, Trump’s 12-day tour of the Asia-Pacific “demonstrate a commitment to economic engagement across the region and his interest in helping all countries grow and thrive economically.”
President Trump is scheduled to leave on his Asia-Pacific tour this Friday, November 3. The visit will include travels to Hawaii, Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
In a White House press briefing yesterday, Oct 31, senior administration officials disclosed some additional details about Trump’s upcoming trip, which will be the longest trip to Asia by any president in the last 25 years.
The administration described the 12-day tour, from November 3rd to 14th, as “a continuation of the President’s extensive diplomatic engagement with countries from the IndoPacific region,” and much of the briefing focused on the economic relations between the US and the countries Trump is scheduled to visit.
Three out of the five countries on the Asia-Pacific tour (Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam) are members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 nation trade agreement negotiated under former President Obama. Trump formally withdrew the US from the partnership on his third official day in office, and a large portion of the briefing focused on the pullout.
Senior administration officials repeatedly stressed that the Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP earlier this year was not a reflection of his commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, but rather a reflection of Trump’s belief that bilateral engagements will yield greater prospects and higher standards.
“TPP was an agreement that was intended to provide very high standards in the region,” a senior administration official stated, “and I think one of the dynamics behind it is that it didn’t achieve that objective. And there’s also a strong concern with full adherence to the commitments.”
Senior administration officials stressed that in order for all countries to grow and thrive economically, there is a need to adopt economic policies based on free market principles that fully embrace “an international trading system which is rules-based and respects high standards, achieving fair and equitable trade relationships through the removal of unfair trade barriers, and the reduction of chronic trade deficits and adherence to market based growth.”
President Trump’s meetings in Japan will “focus on ways for the U.S. and Japan to work together to promote a free and open IndoPacific region,” according to the White House.
In a call with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan yesterday, Trump and Abe affirmed the importance of promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region and maintaining close coordination between the United States and Japan, and with the international community, to maximize pressure on North Korea.
During his visit to South Korea, senior administration officials stated that we can “expect President Trump to highlight the enduring strength of the U.S. and Republic of Korea alliance, which is stronger than ever in the face of North Korea’s aggression.”
Trump’s visit to China, according to the White House, “will send a clear message that, for bilateral economic relations to be sustainable over the long term, China must provide fair and reciprocal treatment to U.S. firms and cease predatory trade and investment practices.”
Senior administration officials repeatedly emphasized that a removal of state-driven subsidies and a more market-oriented economic approach was crucial for countries to thrive in the region. “It will
be no surprise that the President will continue to push China to follow through on commitments that it’s made recently and also when it joined the WTO to take steps towards a more market-oriented economy.”
“We’d like to see China move towards more the market-oriented, systemic changes that would be necessary to help really thrive and enhance growth in the region, and help all the economies thrive.”
In Vietnam, President Trump will participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting and deliver a speech at the APEC CEO Summit, where he will “present the United States vision for a free and open IndoPacific region, and underscore the important role the region plays in advancing American prosperity, as well as security,” according to the White House.
Trump’s engagements at APEC will “reinforce the U.S. commitment to an equitable, sustainable, and rules-based international economic system based on market principles.”
During his time in the Philippines, Trump will participate in the Special Gala Celebration Dinner for the 40th anniversary of US-ASEAN relations and participate in bilateral meetings with President Rodrigo Duterte. Senior administration officials stated that the president’s participation in ASEAN events will “advance U.S. leadership in promoting an Indo-Pacific trade and security architecture based on freedom, openness, and adherence to rule of law.”
“The reality is that President Trump wants to see action,” state administration officials stated at the White House press briefing. “He wants to see real actions to live up to those standards and to really open the markets. And I think that’s going to be a key theme of his visit throughout the region.”