The U.S. needs to increase economic engagement in Asia with an “equally substantial alternative” to the 11-country Pacific trade pact Donald Trump exited nearly five years ago, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said.
“Over the past decades, the U.S. security presence has brought stability and peace in the region,”’ Heng said at a lecture on Tuesday focused on foreign policy issues. “For this to continue into the next decades, the U.S. cannot afford to be absent from the region’s evolving economic architecture.”
The Biden administration has ruled out joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership due to domestic opposition, even as Beijing has formally applied to join the pact. Heng said U.S. economic links to the region were as vital as new initiatives like Aukus, a security partnership with the U.K. and Australia, as well as the four-nation Quad.
“It is just as, if not more, important for the U.S. to be economically engaged,” Heng said. “If not through the CPTPP, then it must have an equally substantial alternative.”
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