Prospects dim for early U.S. return to TPP despite Biden win

Despite former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s defeat of incumbent President Donald Trump in the presidential race, it appears increasingly unlikely that Washington will return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership anytime soon, as expected by Japan and others.

During the presidential campaign, Biden did not mention any plan to bring his country back to the TPP as he was emphasizing the protection of domestic industries.

FILE PHOTO: Joe Biden attends a drive-in campaign event at Dallas High School in Dallas, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 24, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The United States, Japan and 10 other countries reached an agreement on the TPP during President Barack Obama’s time in office, but Trump pulled the U.S. out of the free trade framework just after taking office in January 2017.

The Obama administration had hoped to use the TPP as a means of checking China, and there are hopes within the Japanese government that the United States could eventually return to the TPP as part of its strategy against China.

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Still, it seems difficult for the United State to make an immediate about-face on trade policy after a Trump administration-brokered U.S.-Japan bilateral trade pact took effect early this year.

The Japanese government is now eager to better understand Biden’s stance on trade issues, a government source suggested.

If the next U.S. administration decides to have additional trade negotiations with Japan, the Asian country could be pressed to further liberalize its agricultural market, observers said.

Japan could also be urged to keep in step with tough U.S. measures against China, said Mizuho Research Institute chief researcher Junichi Sugawara.

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