WORLD Trump’s trading places on TPP
IN a striking reversal, President Donald Trump has asked trade officials to explore the possibility of the US rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a free-trade deal he pulled out of during his first days in office as part of his “America first” agenda.
Mr Trump’s request comes as he faces pressure from farmstate Republicans anxious that his protectionist trade policies could spiral into a trade war with China.
Mr Trump spent the 2016 presidential campaign ripping into the multinational pact, saying he could get a better deal for US businesses by negotiating one-on-one with countries in the Pacific Rim.
Now, faced with the political consequences of the action, Mr Trump (pictured) appears to be reconsidering.
“Last year, the President kept his promise to end the TPP deal negotiated by the Obama Administration because it was unfair to American workers and farmers,” the White House said in a statement. The President assigned his top trade advisers, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and his new chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, “to take another look at whether or not a better deal could be negotiated”.
Mr Trump first disclosed his request yesterday to a group of politicians at a White House meeting on trade. Politicians have been pressing Mr Trump to shift course after escalating trade threats, including China’s plan to slap tariffs on soybeans and other US crops.
The apparent decision comes after the 11 other TPP countries signed the pact in Santiago, Chile. The agreement is meant to establish freer trade in the Asia-Pacific region and put pressure on China to open its markets.
Japan cautiously responded yesterday to Mr Trump’s request. Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo said Japan welcomed the request if it meant Mr Trump recognised the significance of the pact. He added that it would be difficult to renegotiate only parts of the TPP.
It was not immediately clear how committed Mr Trump was to embarking on a new path of potentially thorny negotiations. He has mused publicly about rejoining the deal before, suggesting he would re-enter if he could negotiate more favourable terms. It was also unclear how willing the other 11 countries would be to reopen the agreement and make concessions to lure the US back.