The largely unexpected election of Donald Trump has given trade relations an unaccustomed prominence in policy debates. No development highlighted this more dramatically than the rise, and then abrupt demise, of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP saga highlights the growing importance of ‘geoeconomics’ – the application of economic instruments to advance geopolitical ends – in the external policies of major powers. This chapter examines the geoeconomic logic of the TPP, locating its origins in the Obama administration’s desire to shape the form of Asian economic regionalism. However, the it was not wholly well-received either in the U.S. or the region. Asian governments launched competing trade initiatives to the TPP, and domestic opponents applied pressure that ultimately led to its abandonment by the Trump administration. The demise of the TPP may accelerate prospects for an American-to-Chinese leadership transition in Asia, by providing a space in which new Chinese regionalism initiatives can gain traction.
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