Professor Leong Liew
President Trump dislikes free-trade agreements and withdrew the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). President Obama and President Xi support free trade agreements, but they each have a different vision over what they should entail. Obama's vision was the US-led TPP. Xi's alternate vision is the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The three presidents' conflicting views on globalization reflect the competition between a rising economic power and the ruling economic power and disagreement within the ruling power on how to respond to the challenger.
While the two partnerships contain many common elements, there are significant differences between them. The TPP became a security issue for the US with Obama's pivot to Asia and the significant difference between TPPP and RCEP involve the core question of what rules should govern the global economy. Obama was explicit on this when at his 2016 State of the Union address he said, ‘With TPP, China does not set the rules in that region; we do'.
If rules of the global economy implicit in the TPP are favourable to the US, why does Trump oppose the TPP? What rules of the global economy are implicit in the RCEP that make China favours the RCEP over the TPP? At the World Economic Forum at Davos Xi defended economic globalization, but he also said in his Davos speech: ‘All roads lead to Rome. No country should view its own development path as the only viable one, still less should it impose its own development path on others'.
This talk uses a political economy approach that draws on insights from trade theory and game theory to explain and evaluate the three faces of trade policy represented by Obama, Trump and Xi. The talk will argue that at the level of popular discourse one can view the their different visions of globalization as contrasting styles of play favoured by leading managers of football teams competing in the English Premier League and European Champions League.
Professor Leong Liew is Director of the Tourism Confucius Institute at Griffith University and former head of the Department of International Business & Asian Studies. Leong's core research interest is China's political economy. He was first-named chief investigator in four ARC Discovery/Large grants and had published in journals like the Australian Journal of International Affairs, China Quarterly, European Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Development Studies and Public Choice.
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