In addition, the expansion of the P4 could become a crucial turning point for the US in terms of a regional, strategic response to East Asian regionalism, as the P4 could grow to include seven countries. The US has ratified FTAs with Chile, Singapore, Australia and Peru, in addition to Canada and Mexico (through NAFTA), all of which could seek access to P4 through US membership.
Sooner or later, countries that have FTAs with the US could also become part of the expansion of the P4. For the US, the P4 will suddenly become a strategic link to the Asia-Pacific. It could then use this link to create a new economic sphere for itself, giving it new economic impetus and the power to control developments of the global economic and trading system.
When this happens, the strategic environment for regional integration in the Asia-Pacific will undergo substantial qualitative changes. It is questionable how many breakthroughs will be made in terms of East Asian integration when China and Japan start vying for power, and it will also be worth paying attention to how ASEAN, which has long relied on the US market, will react.
Johnny C. Chiang is director of the Department of International Affairs at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.
TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON