By Madeleine Hillyer, International News Editor
On Thursday, February 16, the Japan Society in New York hosted the panel discussion “U.S.-Japan-Korea Trade Relations: Recent Developments & Future Prospects.” The panelists included Wendy Cutler, Vice President of the Asia Policy Institute and a former Acting Deputy US Trade Representative, Gheewhan Kim, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in New York, and Shotaro Ohsima, Chairman for the Insititute for International Economic Studies and former Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. The event was moderated by Daniel J. Ikenson of the Cato Institute.
Much of the discussion was focused on the election of President Trump and how his policies going forward will affect trade relations between the three countries. The overarching sentiment expressed by all three panelists was that it is still too early to be able to accurately assess how President Trump’s policies will affect trade relations as there has not been much policy roll out yet. Wendy Cutler made the point that though there was strong rhetoric during the campaign, many high level positions that would have the strongest oversight of US trade policy implementation have yet to be confirmed. It was also agreed that the uncertainty going forward put the relations between the three countries in a more tenuous position than before the election but that no real analysis can be done until more policy actions have taken hold.
Another major topic of discussion was the Trans Pacific Partnership and its future now that the United States has pulled out of negotiations. Mr. Oshima expressed optimism that somewhere down the line the United States will return to the TPP and rejoin negotiations but also said he knew this was unlikely during President Trump’s administration. Mr. Oshima also noted that TPP countries with China and South Korea will meet in Chile in April to discuss future negotiations. Mr. Kim also noted that there are also possibilities for trade agreements negotiated outside of the TPP. Ms. Cutler and Mr. Oshima both expressed their desire for the US to rejoin the TPP in the future due to is unprecedented trade standards for an agreement of its size.
An interesting point in the Q and A session was when a gentleman from the audience expressed his concern to the Korea Consul General about the teaching of Japanese-Korea relations in Korean history classes. Both Mr. Kim and Mr. Oshima answered saying that though there is a way to go before there is full agreement between the two countries on their two countries’ history what is important is dialogue between all levels of society.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 21st print edition.
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