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Shipping containers at Chua Ve port in Hai Phong, Vietnam. Photo: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump has instructed his economic advisors to consider rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but economics is only part of the deal’s appeal. The TPP, now known as the CPTPP, was also crafted to advance U.S. foreign policy interests.

Why it matters: Rejoining would reaffirm America’s commitment to Asia, where China has become increasingly assertive. That’s why Japan is already welcoming the possibility with open arms.

There are other benefits that Trump’s defense and foreign policy advisors should take into account: The TPP also advances democratic norms by raising standards for governance, fighting corruption and promoting a free and open internet.

Many of those gains can be seen in the version of the deal that moved forward without U.S. participation. With the U.S. involved, other countries in the region will have an even greater incentive to adopt standards and rules that reflect American interests.

If the U.S. remains outside the TPP, it will only strengthen China, which is already advancing its own plans for Asia and beyond. President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, launched in 2013 in part as a response to the TPP, aims to put Beijing at the center of the global economy. It has attracted some 70 countries with promises of $1 trillion of infrastructure investment, trade deals and policy coordination.

The bottom line: In Asia, economics is strategy, and right now China is running the table.

Jonathan Hillman is a fellow and director of the Reconnecting Asia Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Go deeper

Biden says Russia likely to invade Ukraine

President Biden addressed the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine during a press briefing Wednesday, saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "my guess is he will move in."

Why it matters: U.S. officials have issued a series of warnings about Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Kyiv earlier Wednesday that Russia could invade "on very short notice."

Biden challenges GOP agenda: "What are Republicans for?"

President Biden pushed back against Republican efforts to obstruct his agenda during a press conference Wednesday, asking "What are Republicans for?"

Why it matters: Biden's speech comes as he approaches one year in office, facing low polling numbers and a stalled agenda.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Biden’s face mask campaign requires more imports from China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

American mask manufacturers are getting whiplash, having gone from sleepy sector to mission-critical industry overnight — only to see sales collapse before now being suddenly in demand again.

Why it matters: As the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 rages, health experts now say Americans need legitimate N95 or KN95 masks to best protect themselves — not widely available fakes or less effective cloth masks.