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Trump vows to include anti-currency manipulation clause in future trade pacts

Kyodo, Reuters

The United States will include a clause preventing currency manipulation in all future bilateral trade deals, President Donald Trump said Thursday, as he criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership economic pact for not prohibiting the practice.

“We’re going to have very, very strong controls over monetary manipulation and devaluation, which they didn’t have in TPP,” Trump said in a speech in Philadelphia, taking aim at the practice of deliberately weakening currencies to boost export revenue.

The president also said the United States would withdraw from bilateral trade deals deemed as not treating the country fairly, having on Monday ditched the 12-party Asia-Pacific pact.

Asked what would happen if the Trump administration insisted on a currency manipulation provision in future trade negotiations, the Japanese government’s top spokesman on Friday indicated Japan would push back.

“Even if something like that happens, we will make the same assertions and wrap (the deal) up in the same way as the TPP,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

He also reiterated Japan’s stance of emphasizing the significance of the TPP when Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet in Washington, with Abe hailing the pact as having both economic and strategic importance.

The bilateral summit is likely to take place around Feb. 10, according to a diplomatic source.

Meanwhile, Trump will seek quick progress toward a bilateral trade accord with Japan in place of TPP, when Abe visits Washington next month, a Trump administration official said.

“I see Abe’s visit being more about finding a follow-through, a replacement for TPP,” said the official.

“Given the domestic political capital (Abe has) expended on TPP, there’s going to be an effort to work with him on a follow-on.”

Trump, who took office Jan. 20, reiterated Thursday he would strike numerous bilateral deals, as opposed to multilateral accords like the TPP.

The TPP, which took years to negotiate among 12 countries, has often been described as being, at its core, a deal between the United States and Japan, the world’s largest and third-largest economies.

Trump called it bad for American jobs, but proponents worry that abandoning the project could further strengthen China’s economic hand in the region.

Trump’s remark came after he accused Japan and China of engaging in trade practices that he said are “not fair” to American companies, while singling out auto trade with Japan as falling into that category.

In his speech Thursday, Trump said the world’s largest economy will scrap bilateral trade deals swiftly if they are deemed to be unfair.

“If that particular country doesn’t treat us fairly, we send them a 30-day termination, notice of termination,” he said.

Many trade pacts include clauses enabling countries to withdraw from an accord, but they have varying time frames for termination.

The free trade pact between the United States and Australia stipulates the countries can scrap the trade deal with six months’ notice.

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