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In Japan and South Korea, Trump Boxed Himself In


Added 07-02-19 06:34:01pm EST - “The United States is not making progress in its trade war with China or in nuclear talks with North Korea.” - Foreignpolicy.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Foreignpolicy.com: “In Japan and South Korea, Trump Boxed Himself In”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Elephants in the Room: In Japan and South Korea, Trump Boxed Himself In In Japan and South Korea, Tru...

At the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last week, and again in his last-minute meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the North Korea-South Korea border on Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump boxed himself in. He put on a magnificent show for the press, resulting in agreements that did nothing more than return him to where he was a few months ago.

In Osaka, the most substantial takeaway was Trump’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. With financial markets and U.S. farmers reeling from Trump’s 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and fresh threats to extend those tariffs to virtually all remaining Chinese imports, there was a huge sigh of relief when Xi and Trump agreed to resume trade talks. But Beijing did not make any visible concessions because it knew that Trump was not going to move in either direction on tariffs. Cutting tariffs would have hurt Trump with the blue-collar voters he needs in Midwestern swing states to win reelection in 2020, and raising tariffs would have invited crippling retaliation on already suffering farmers whom Trump also needs. So he was boxed in.

Trump on the other hand did make concessions. By promising to rescind the Commerce Department’s ban on trade with the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, the president undercut his own administration’s arguments that the ban was the result of national security concerns, not just a negotiating tactic. Here again, though, the president may find himself boxed in, since a bipartisan coalition of national security hawks in Congress is likely legislate the restrictions on Huawei.

Trump then traveled to the Korean Peninsula, where he declared a spectacular victory with North Korea. The major substantive result of the president’s tour of the Demilitarized Zone and meeting with Kim was an agreement to resume talks that had stalled after Trump walked out of his summit with Kim in Hanoi in February. Trump left that meeting after Kim said he interpreted the agreement the two leaders reached at their first summit in Singapore the year before to mean that the North would be allowed to keep substantial parts of its nuclear arsenal and missile programs and enjoy sanctions relief in exchange for opening the Yongbyon nuclear facilities to inspections. That was essentially the same deal Washington and Pyongyang reached in 1994—except that Yongbyon is now equipped with nuclear capabilities the North was never supposed to have and the sanctions rollback on the table is more extensive.

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