Amid a protracted trade war with China and the resulting fallout of turbulent financial markets, the trade deal between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is welcome news for Trump admit concerns over a slowing U.S. economy. The agreement—involving agriculture and digital trade—amounts to a win for Trump’s trade strategy and a positive development for his re-election efforts.
Both leaders signed the trade deal on the sidelines of September’s 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
From the perspective of presidential campaign politics, Trump’s trade agreement with Abe is important symbolically as it demonstrates that, amid the difficulties of the trade war with China, the president can negotiate a trade deal that supports the U.S. economy. The president has been under increasing pressure to secure benefits from his combative trade policies, and the agriculture sector has expressed concern about losing market share in the increasingly important Asia-Pacific market.
Along these lines, Trump’s trade agreement with Japan provides relief to American farmers who have been hit hard in the trade war with China. The Trump campaign is hopeful that this trade deal with Tokyo will help to shore up support among this important voter group given the agreement’s focus on opening up Japan to American beef, pork, wheat, corn, ethanol, dairy products and wine.
According to some economists, Trump needs a trade deal with China in order to maintain the growth of the American economy. As the successful stewardship of the economy is Trump’s principal argument for deserving re-election, avoiding a recession is paramount. Absent a trade deal with China, the agreement with Japan—the world’s third-largest economy—is a welcome development for Trump.