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Trump's First Trade Deal Should Be With Japan

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership off the table, America's priority should be a bilateral trade pact.
American ally.

American ally.

Photographer: Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Even as he puts a stake through Barack Obama's ambitious, 12-nation trade pact with Asia, President Donald Trump has signaled he's willing to strike narrower bilateral deals in the region. His first one should be with Japan.

To be clear, any bilateral deal would be far inferior to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have not only lowered barriers to trade but also raised labor and environmental standards, forced domestic economic reforms and encouraged new supply chains linking the U.S. to the world's fastest-growing region. But given that the U.S. and Japan are two of the world's three biggest economies -- their combined GDP accounts for more than 75 percent of the total among TPP nations -- and their combined trade in goods and services is close to $200 billion a year, a deal between them could at least calm fears that the world is lurching toward protectionism.