SINGAPORE (April 17): In the past two weeks, the Trump Administration has initiated a series of moves on trade, which shows that the US’ trade policies under its new president are beginning to take shape. While these policies are still evolving, there are several developments that will worry Asia and only a few positive changes.

Asian economies have to accept that the trade environment is going to get tougher. Ideally, they should ensure that regional trade and economic partnership agreements currently being negotiated will materialise in a form that really does make a difference to growing trade opportunities. This seems difficult, however, and, in the end, the smaller and more open economies of Asia will have to work on their own to diversify their export dependence away from the US.

What has changed?
The good news is that there has yet to be any substantive change in actual policies. The bad news is that the hints contained in the announced initiatives are not encouraging.

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