The tension in Asia during the last few days of the recent U.S election campaigns was palpable. Throughout the explosive campaign period, Asia had become a thorny issue with both candidates promising to look at trade pacts between the U.S and Asia. However, Trump was categorical that the region was getting an upper hand in alliances that had been signed by the previous administrations. The president-elect promised to trash alliances and pacts with the region while also proposing tariffs against goods from the region.
The Reality of a Trump Presidency
The entire Asian region had been vouching for Clinton and though they could not openly say this, it was clear they favored a pro-administration candidate. However, the reality is now sinking in and the first effects of Trump’s victory were seen when the markets tanked as the results were being announced. Before Clinton had even conceded, all markets were closing low from Shanghai to Hong Kong.
With the U.S markets recovering based on Trump’s re-conciliatory speech, the Asian markets have also started an impressive upward trend. However, analysts warn that the real impact of Trump’s presidency can only be quantified when he introduces his policy.
Trump’s policy on Asia is vague, but he has clearly indicated what he thinks about the region. In the last days of the campaigns he for instance lamented that Singapore has stolen American jobs. Earlier he had already labeled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as the worst deal ever signed. China has also been on the receiving end of Trump’s rhetoric with a promise to slap a 45% tariff on Chinese products.
In Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea things could not get worse. Just when China’s economy is starting to recover in comes Trump promising to get back millions of lost jobs. This means American firms such as Nike will have to close shop and do business in the U.S. Worse still, Trump is for the idea of slapping all these countries with tariffs that would impact their export-dependent economies hard.
Trump’s stances on Asia are bound to have a big impact starting 2017. There are still uncertainties in his policies and analysts observe this is the worst thing that could happen to a slow Asian economy. From Kuala Lumpur to Manila, the reality of a Trump presidency is now sinking in and even as markets stabilize the fear still lurks that what could be coming is really bad.