WASHINGTON — U.S.-allied Asian ambassadors on Tuesday urged President-elect Donald Trump to reconsider his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and keep the U.S. engaged in Asia.
Ambassadors from Australia, South Korean and Singapore made the appeal at a Washington think tank.
The Obama administration championed the trade pact which was signed by 12 nations in February but has run into a wall of congressional and public opposition.
Trump has vowed to withdraw from TPP on his first day in office, calling it a “disaster” for American jobs.
Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey said, “America has to engage with Asia if it is going to be great,” because that’s where most global economic growth is happening.
“The fact that the U.S. was very involved in leadership of it (TPP) then could not deliver and has chosen now not to deliver is hugely damaging to the United States’ reputation in Asia,” Hockey said.
He said that in the meantime, Asian nations are focusing on an alternative trade pact supported by China, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
South Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-young acknowledged that anti-trade and globalization sentiment had surged during the U.S. election but said that in the long-term, all nations benefit from trade liberalization.
He said South Korea wants to join TPP if it progresses.
The three envoys steered clear of the controversy over Trump’s recent pronouncements on China and Taiwan.
Singaporean Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri said that U.S. global leadership is needed in the Asia-Pacific, but Southeast Asian nations also want calm between the U.S. and China.