Australia's post-Trump trade agenda: Making sense of limited options

16 February 2017

A new research brief on US President Donald Trump's trade agenda, its impact on the Asia-Pacific region and Australia's options following the collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

The brief's author, Perth USAsia Centre research fellow Dr Jeffrey D. Wilson, details how the Trump Administration’s promised trade policies break with several decades of US orthodoxy, explores the possibility of a trade war between the United States and China, and looks at the potential threats to Australia's trade interests.

"The Trump Administration has shown a surprising amount of clarity on its intentions for trade policy in the Asia-Pacific," Dr Wilson said.

"Unfortunately, the trade policies which Trump has promised are highly adverse. They threaten many Australian economic interests — in particular, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and good economic relations with China — while narrowing future trade policy options."

Key points

  • Trump’s trade policies will delegitimise US leadership in global and regional economic diplomacy.
  • Trump’s trade threats against China are likely more political than practical, but Australia needs to hedge against the unlikely (but potentially catastrophic event) that Trump follows through with them.
  • Australian trade diplomacy needs to move beyond the TPP and embrace alternate initiatives focused on Asian partners. If trade strategies are not adjusted, the Australian economy will find itself the victim of a Trump-induced trade policy shock.

Read report (PDF)

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