Trump’s trip to Asia: one eye on North Korea, one on trade
North Korean threat on agenda in meetings with leaders in Japan, South Korea, China. But also the balance of trade. Attempts to encircle Chinese economic power in talks with Hanoi and Manila. Overcoming the Asia-Pacific area, which now becomes "Indo-Pacific".
Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - US President Donald Trump arrived in Japan yesterday on his first international trip that will take him to several Asian countries: Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Danang (Vietnam) and Manila.
The theme is the security of the Far East, with the growing threats of North Korea, but also the attempt to balance trade with the Asia-Pacific countries. Already on his arrival in Tokyo, Trump outlined these two issues. Speaking to the military at Yokota Air Force, west of the Japanese capital, in a clear reference to North Korea and its chief Kim Jong-un, he said that "no one, no dictator, no regime, no nation should underestimate ... American resolve ". Today, however, speaking to a group of US and Japanese entrepreneurs, he pointed out that "for many years, the US has suffered a massive trade deficit with Japan."
Since the beginning of his presidential mandate, Trump has abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which regulates trade in the Asia Pacific region and wants to pursue new state-by-state agreements.
The US has a $ 69 billion trade deficit with Japan. Trump wants to press for reduced levies on American agricultural products and cars are. At the same time, he wants Japanese car companies to transfer part of their production to the United States.
Trump will have to tackle the issue of the balance of trade balance with South Korea, with which the US has a deficit of 28 billion. He would like to renegotiate the Free Trade Agreement signed with Seoul in 2012, which liberalized more than 90% of the products traded between the two countries.
But the problem is most acute with China. Trump often called the US trade deficit to Beijing "horrible" and "embarrassing", which currently stands at about $ 347 billion. In the past Trump threatened to apply up to 45% levies on Chinese products and launched an investigation into the possible dumping of Chinese steel (which has been undercutting through overproduction and state aid) and the non-defense of intellectual property.
The threat of North Korea is also a commercial issue, pushing Japan and South Korea to arm themselves. Already at the beginning of his mandate, Trump had said that Seoul and Tokyo had to spend more on their military security while leaning on friendship with the US.
In September Trump promised both to offer "a substantial increase in" sophisticated military equipment.
On this aspect, Tokyo and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are ready to increase military spending and prefer a tough line to Pyongyang, but Seoul and President Moon Jae-in prefer to leave space for dialogue while resisting full deployment of the Thaad anti-missile system (made in Usa).
The United States and Donald Trump continue to accuse China of "not doing enough" to block the Pyongyang nuclear program, even though Beijing has adhered to the latest series of sanctions against the North’s dictatorship.
According to analysts, US pressure on Beijing and military friendship with South Korea and Japan also have another purpose: to contain the expansion of Chinese power. This is also why the US president’s itinerary takes in Vietnam and the Philippines, which with China opened a dispute over sovereignty over the islands of the South China Sea. But Beijing's economic power and the promise of involving many Asian countries in the Belt and Road Initiative casts some doubts over Vietnam and the Philippines continuing to establish a strategic alliance with the United States.
Tomorrow Trump will be in Seoul and November 8 in China. On the 10, he will be in Danang (Vietnam) to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (Apec), and then Hanoi. Almost to relativizing Chinese expansion, the White House tends to talk about the "Indo-Pacific" region and no-longer of the "Asia-Pacific" opening up to the other Asian giant.
On November 12, Trump will arrive in Manila for talks with President Rodrigo Duterte and attend the ASEAN summit (Association of South East Asian Nations).