Wednesday, November 11, 2009

US president travels to asia

President Obama leaves Thursday on his first official trip to Asia. USA TODAY looks at Obama's policy plan for the week, as he visits Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea.
The main purpose of his journey is to attend this weekend's summit of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group. The Apec meeting is in Singapore, and would be the US leader's only stop in the Asian region.
Mr Obama's promises about restoring US interest in Asia in general and Asian in particular, have proved so far to be more talk than substance. His Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pointedly made her first foreign visit to Asia soon after Mr Obama took office in January. She returned in July for the annual Asian Regional Forum in Thailand.
More seriously, Mr Obama and advisers will find it tricky to keep a straight face in Singapore while they support free trade. The US president took office owing favors to trade unions and political groups who oppose free trade. His administration has already delivered some free-trade restrictions. Since January, the White House has trumpet "Buy American" campaigns including new laws restricting foreign textile and clothing makers. The US has begun a so-called "tyre war" with China, and of course has delivered hundreds of billions in bailout subsidies for the US auto industry and its unionized workers.


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