Special Forum

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States in November 2016 created shock waves across the Asian countries that had been the targets of his campaign rhetoric. Candidate Trump had accused China of “outrageous theft of intellectual property, … illegal product dumping, and … devastating currency manipulation,” characterized the South Korea-US free trade agreement (KORUS FTA) as a “job killing trade deal,” and accused Japan of “ripping off” the United States.1 He had promised to label China a currency manipulator “on Day One,” to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and “to bring jobs back from Mexico and from Japan … [and] Vietnam.”2 Unmellowed by electoral victory, his inauguration speech on January 20, 2017 trumpeted a new mercantilist approach to trade: “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”3

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