April 12 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Thursday called on his advisers to weigh a return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership after scrapping the trade deal when he assumed the presidency.
Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and economic adviser Larry Kudlow to determine whether the United States could achieve a better trade deal between the United States and the 11 other TPP countries.
“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,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement. “The president has consistently said he would be open to a substantially better deal, including in his speech in Davos earlier this year. To that end, he has asked [Ambassador] Lighthizer and Director Kudlow to take another look at whether or not a better deal could be negotiated.”
Trump signed an executive order scrapping the deal days after his inauguration in 2017, hailing the decision as a “great thing for the American worker.”
A year later while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump expressed interest in renegotiating the TPP or coming to individual deals with the various countries involved in the trade partnership.
“As I have said, the United States is prepared to negotiate mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries,” he said. “This will include the countries in TPP, which are very important. We have agreements with several of them already. We would consider negotiating with the rest, either individually, or perhaps as a group, if it is in the interests of all.”
The 11 other TPP countries signed a new version of the deal, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, in March, excluding the United States. The other countries include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Trump’s decision to consider a return to the trade deal comes as the United States and China trade escalating tariffs on products such as Chinese steel and electronics, and U.S. aluminum and food products.
Sen. Ben Basse, R-Neb., said it was “good news” Trump directed Kudlow and Lasse to reconsider joining the TPP.
“The best thing the United States can do to push back against Chinese cheating now is to lead the other eleven Pacific nations that believe in free trade and the rule of law,” Basse said.