Trade alliances to reshape Asia far from settled

Opinion – Canberra Times http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/trade-alliances-to-reshape-asia-far-from-settled-20121119-29mc5.htmlCanberra Times Opinion November 20, 2012 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/trade-alliances-to-reshape-asia-far-from-settled-20121119-29mc5.html America’s policy ‘pivot’ to Asia involves intensified diplomacy and shifting US military forces into places where, in co-operation with regional allies and friends, they can more effectively counterbalance the increasingly assertive rise of China. But there is another leg to the pivot policy, one of economic engagement with Asia, a major trade and investment partner and source of future growth as America tries to hasten its recovery. This leg has developed a limp and US President Barack Obama, who has made south-east Asia his first overseas destination following his recent re-election, is trying to restore strength to the limb by visiting Thailand, Burma and Cambodia. The US diplomatic and military pivot to Asia is only one dimension of the strategic jostling between the US and China. The other is a competition for regional economic influence as the world’s two top economies support different visions for future trade, investment and business growth. One plan is centred on Asia and backed by China to enhance its position. The other spans the Pacific Ocean to link the Americas and Asia, and is championed by the US to increase its leverage. In Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Obama will join leaders from 17 other, mainly Asian, nations for East Asia Summit talks. A centrepiece will be a decision to launch negotiations to form...

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