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International relations

TPP and Trump -- who needs who more?

China strategic threat could push US back into spurned trade -- and a new game of brinksmanship

| China

One good thing about U.S. President Donald Trump -- he is not shy about changing his mind. The latest walk-back from his campaign rhetoric of late 2016 concerns the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an ocean-spanning, tariff-cutting and standard-setting agreement with significant geopolitical implications. One of Trump's first acts as president was to withdraw from the nascent pact, but in recent days, hints have been dropped by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump himself that re-joining is "on the table."

If Trump did reverse his position, it would be a huge win for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has kept the agreement on life-support after the U.S. exit, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has sought to persuade Trump of its benefits. For both countries, keeping the U.S. engaged in the region is of vital national concern. Many other member countries would welcome American participation as an alternative to slow absorption into the Chinese sphere of influence.

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