By William Mauldin
President Donald Trump wants to clinch and update trade agreements with one country at a time, eschewing the big multilateral affairs Barack Obama sought to enact. Below are some nations he might seek to work with on bilateral pacts of some kind.
United Kingdom: President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May have expressed interest in a two-way trade tie-up, but any deal can't be finished until the U.K. finishes withdrawing from the EU.
Mexico: Mr. Trump has vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement but friction on both sides will make that task difficult, increasing the risk that the U.S. pulls out of the pact.Canada: The northern U.S. neighbor has a bilateral deal with the U.S. that predates Nafta and could be reinstated with updates addressing longstanding disputes, including Canada's dairy industry and softwood-lumber exports.
China: The Obama administration failed to finish a bilateral investment treaty that would have required Beijing to open many industries to foreign companies. Mr. Trump has threatened pressure China through unilateral tariffs or stepped-up trade cases.
Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday he wouldn't rule out bilateral trade talks with the U.S., a notable shift. The Obama administration struck an informal bilateral deal with Japan that was folded into the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mr. Trump could use that as a starting point.
South Korea: An adviser close to Mr. Trump said he could try to renegotiate a bilateral deal with the country, seeking to address imbalances in the auto trade.That could be hard while South Korean officials are mired in a political crisis and face the rise of populist politicians.
Germany: Mr. Trump has warned that German cars produced in Mexico and shipped to the U.S. would be subject to a big tax or tariff. Germany can't negotiate a formal trade agreement with the U.S. without running afoul of the European Union, which Mr. Obama sought to include in a broad trans-Atlantic agreement.
Russia: Before Moscow's annexation of Crimea, U.S. and Russian officials were considering a joint trade and investment platform. Now some Democrats are asking Mr. Trump to seek better export opportunities in Russia. Mr. Trump hasn't ruled out lifting sanctions on Moscow and could ask Russia to open up its markets in return.
Vietnam: The communist country stood to be the biggest beneficiary of the TPP. Mr. Trump could use the TPP as a blueprint for a bilateral deal with the country, putting strategic pressure on China.
Taiwan: Wilbur Ross, Mr. Trump's Commerce secretary pick, didn't rule out a deal with Taiwan when asked in his Senate confirmation hearing. But officials in Taipei are likely to be cautious about launching talks that could generate an angry response from Beijing.
James Hookway, Andrea Thomas and Mitsuru Obe contributed to this article.
Write to William Mauldin at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 27, 2017 10:59 ET (15:59 GMT)
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