Trump Agrees to Meet Kim, Trans Pacific Partnership Continues Without Him

It would be the first time an American president met with the North Korean dictator.

Presidents Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Donald Trump of the United States meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, October 2, 2017
Presidents Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Donald Trump of the United States meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, October 2, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from Kim Jong-un to meet one-on-one. It would be the first time a sitting American president met with the North Korean dictator.

North Korea craves international legitimacy, which the United States have deliberately withheld. Trump’s break with decades of policy is risky — but it’s not if existing policy has worked. North Korea remains a rogue state. It has only continued its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

The challenge now, as Fred Kaplan writes in Slate, is organizing a careful diplomacy that includes coordinating common negotiating positions with Japan and South Korea.

Unfortunately, Trump has yet to appoint an ambassador to Seoul. The State Department’s top North Korea expert has resigned. None of the three top foreign-policy officials in Trump’s government — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — have much experience in Asia.

Also read this thread by Robert E. Kelly about why Korea hands are skeptical.

Pacific trade deal without America

On the same day Trump formally announced aluminum and steel tariffs, eleven Pacific nations signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership, a continuation of the deal Trump withdrew the United States from last year.

Even though it no longer covers 40 percent of global trade, the agreement still creates the third-largest trade bloc in the world, after NAFTA and the EU.

The treaty eliminates 98 percent of tariffs between Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Late last year, the EU and Japan finalized a trade agreement that would create the world’s largest open economic zone when it comes into effect in 2019.

Read more about how Trump is accelerating the demise of the American-led world order.

Macron picks his battles

Anne-Sylvaine Chassany reports for the Financial Times that France’s Emmanuel Macron is carefully picking his battles with the trade unions.

  • Taking management of France’s €32 billion professional training scheme out of the hands of unions and business groups — but at the same time giving unions more clout in deciding working hours and pay at the company level.
  • Ending automatic pay rises and early retirement at the state railway — but only for new hires.

Other plans include linking unemployment benefits and training more closely to job-seeking and harmonizing France’s 37 pension regimes.