Trade policy, in particular, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), has been a centerpiece of the Abe administration's economic strategy. The TPP's contributions to Japan's growth strategy include: (i) creating trade and investment opportunities abroad for Japanese companies through ambitious liberalization targets; (ii) advancing domestic reforms – with the largest service and agricultural liberalization commitments to date; and (iii) increasing bargaining leverage in other trade negotiations. But the domestic reform goals of Abenomics in agriculture have come up short due to opposition from domestic lobbies. American trade politics – which culminated in the US withdrawal from the TPP – have upended the goals of trade policy under Abenomics. Japan's best option in this new environment is to deliver on high quality, multi-party trade agreements: concluding negotiations with Europe; scaling up the ambition of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership; and salvaging a TPP 11. The merits of a bilateral free trade agreement with the USA will depend on how the Trump administration operationalizes its America First policy.
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