Expert: Without TPP, China Looms Large in U.S.-Asia Trade Talks


Expert Pitch

The U.S. involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership is over, but no one expects trade between the United States and its Asian allies to cease. The question that remains is how that trade will be governed.

Derek Heng, a professor of history at Northern Arizona University, is available to discuss what the future of trade between the United States and Asian countries likely will look like. It’s only going to get more complicated, he said; as China’s economic influence in the region increases, America’s ties to the region will come under increased competition.

Heng, who is chairman of the Department of History, focuses his research on world trade issues, historical economics, Asian culture and sociopolitical structures. He teaches the economic and diplomatic history of Asia and Asian environmental history, among other topics. He is a senior honorary fellow at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Center, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Expert: Derek Heng, professor of history, Northern Arizona University, (928) 523-5685 or derek.heng@nau.edu

Points of interest• While TPP likely would have leveled the playing field between the United States and China, the U.S. now has to negotiate trade agreements with individual countries; how that will be done remains to be seen.• Many of the Asia-Pacific Rim countries already have these agreements in place, but those that don’t—such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar—are the least developed economies in Asia and are most vulnerable to economic and political pressure from China, thus raising the stakes for the United States.• “The United States has, through decades of engagement in Asia, built up a formidable economic network with substantial stakes in the Asia-Pacific economies. The importance of these markets cannot be understated, especially given the influence the U.S. has in the geopolitics of this is closely tied to the economic relations it has with these countries.”• “At this moment, what is at stake is the possibility of the U.S. losing ground in terms of its place in the economic security and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region. We are no longer in the same scenario we were in 10-20 years ago, when China was only beginning to modernize and open its economy to the world.”• “The Trump Administration’s economic agenda is quite clear and straightforward. Less apparent are the diplomatic and geopolitical objectives that form part of the larger picture of international trade and economic interactions. The latter is what governments in Asia are presently trying to get a good sense of.”

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