Asia's winners and losers from Trump's TPP dump

Man in Beijing reads paper featuring picture of Donald Trump Image copyright AP

No one should be surprised that Donald Trump plans to pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact before it has even begun.

Despite the US and 11 other nations signing up to the deal - covering 40% of the world economy - the President-elect had been clear on the election campaign trail that he was against it.

But even though Asian leaders have had time to prepare for this news, that's not to say Mr Trump's decision won't sting.

And it may have lasting economic and political repercussions.

Earlier this year, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, speaking at the White House, warned what may happen to the US should it decide to pull out of the agreement.

"If, at the end, waiting at the altar, the bride doesn't arrive, I think there are people who are going to be very hurt, not just emotionally but really damaged for a long time to come," he said.

So let's take a look at who stands to lose in Asia from TPP's demise:

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Vietnam had seen the TPP as way to more markets


Singapore: Singapore was one of the co-founders of the TPP's predecessor, and was a big backer of the deal in the region. The small island state relies on trade for its economy to grow. It's also home to one of the biggest ports in the region. It was hoping to benefit from an increase in services such as shipping and trade financing that it was expecting to follow from more regional and global trade.

Vietnam: According to this study by the Petersen Institute, Vietnam was expected to benefit the most from the TPP because it is still a relatively closed economy. This trade deal would have given it tariff free access for its rice, seafood, textiles and low-end manufactured goods. Some estimates say Vietnam could have seen a 10% boost to its economy by 2025 under the TPP.

Malaysia: According to that same Petersen study, Malaysia could see its economy grow by 5.5% in the same period because of the pact, which was set to give it access to the US for its palm oil exports, but at the same time under the rules of the agreement it had to agree to higher international labour standards.

Image copyright Reuters


The central premise of the US-backed TPP was: join our party, we'll all get rich together, and we'll all abide by international standards. Everybody wins.

Except now that's no longer true - instead, the biggest winner is now the country who was never included in the TPP to begin with...

China: As my colleague Carrie Gracie explains, China is well placed to step into the US's global footprint with both its regional trade deal alternative, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal, and it's massive and expensive One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, which aims to build roads, ports and highways through much of Asia.

Other countries that have not joined the TPP (including Thailand, the Philippines and others who are close to China like Laos and Cambodia for instance, could also stand to gain from RCEP and OBOR.)

This is typically the role the US has played in the past few decades in Asia, through US financial bodies and global institutions.

Some analysts say China has been playing the "New Great Game" in Asia (a reference to the power rivalry we saw in the 19th century in Central Asia), grabbing any opportunity it can find to increase its influence in the region.

Mr Trump may have just handed Beijing the chance it has been looking for.

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