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06:48, 29 May 2017 Monday
08:19, 17 February 2017 Friday

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Trump trade strategy 'doomed to failure:' US trade expert
Trump trade strategy 'doomed to failure:' US trade expert

Jeffrey Schott and other international economists also warned of the cost of a US retreat from Asia, ceding influence in the region to China.

World Bulletin / News Desk

President Donald Trump's rejection of multilateral trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific in favor of one-on-one deals is "doomed to failure," a noted US trade expert said Thursday.

The Trump complaint that the US gave up too much in the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- the regional deal he scrapped immediately after taking office -- defies the evidence, said Jeffrey Schott of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The institute, a long-time free trade advocate, created the benchmark study on the TPP which estimated the benefit to the US economy at over $100 billion by 2030. 

Schott said that while the TPP can be improved upon, trading partners are unlikely to make as many concessions in a bilateral deal since the US market already is largely open to them.

"Trump's TPP critique is flawed, and the bilateral strategy to replace it is flawed and doomed to failure," he said at a forum to present his policy paper on the subject.

"China's regional dominance will grow very, very fast," cautioned Il SaKong, former Korean finance minister and head of the Institute for Global Economics in Seoul.

C. Fred Bergsten, a founder of the Peterson Institute and a former US Treasury official, said: "The US cannot absent itself from Asia and turn it over to China."

Schott argued that the 12-country pact pried greater concessions out of participating nations than would be possible in a bilateral deal.

"The US got paid not once but twice," he said, with concessions in each market and better investment an intellectual property rules "for helping them get better access via the TPP to the Japanese, Vietnamese and other markets than they would have been able to get on a bilateral basis."

Schott recommended the administration "go big," and negotiate an even bigger regional trade deal, improving on some areas, including enforceable rules on currency manipulation, which Trump and his economic advisers have repeatedly raised.

"Trump should take a mulligan and tee up a new and bigger and better Pacific trade deal," Schott said. 

He recommended adding Korea and Colombia to the accord, since they already have bilateral trade deals with the United States, as well as Taiwan.


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Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution
Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organisation by the UN and United States, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting. The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar's forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014. Most of its members then defected to the so-called Islamic State group. Ansar al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias. At its zenith, Ansar al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya. The organisation took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Kadhafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of jihadists seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.