SINGAPORE (Feb 5): US President Donald Trump used his State of the Union speech to reiterate his hard-line views on trade, vowing that the “era of economic surrender is over” and that his administration would “fix bad trade deals”. Only days before the speech, his administration had imposed tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, which directly hurt Chinese and South Korean producers as well as those producing components for those producers such as manufacturers in Malaysia. Over the past year, the Trump administration has also blocked the reappointment of judges to the appellate tribunal of the World Trade Organization dispute settlement body, a strategy that would severely compromise the WTO’s ability to act as a neutral arbiter of trade disputes. It has also pursued an uncompromising line in negotiations on both the North American Free Trade Area (Nafta) as well as the Korea-US FTA (Korus).

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