White House considers re-joining Pacific trade pact

Friday, 2018-04-13 06:57:00
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Representatives of members of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal wave as they pose for an official picture after the signing CPTPP deal ceremony in Santiago, Chile March 8, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
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US President Donald Trump has asked his trade advisers to look at rejoining the Trans Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade pact he withdrew the United States from last year, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.

Republican senators met with Trump on April 12 and he told them that he has asked United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow to re-open negotiations.

"The president has consistently said he would be open to a substantially better deal, including in his speech in Davos earlier this year," Walters said.

The TPP had aimed to cut trade barriers in some of the fastest-growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called TPP a "disaster". He pulled the United States out of the Pacific trade deal in January last year, one of his first moves as president.

Earlier this year, the remaining 11 TPP nations announced they struck an alternative agreement - the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) deal - without the United States.

Although the United States has withdrawn from the TPP, Trump has signaled his interest in reconsidering the trade deal.

In January this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump told CNBC during an interview that "I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal."

Trump in February also suggested he was open to the trade pact during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"It is good news that today the president directed Larry Kudlow and Ambassador Lighthizer to negotiate US entry into TPP,” Senator Ben Sasse, a pro-trade Republican, said in a statement after the meeting between Trump and the senators.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on April 13 said he would welcome a move by the United States to explore rejoining the Trans Pacific Partnership, following news that President Donald Trump wanted to take a fresh look at the trade pact.

"If it's true, I would welcome it," he told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Aso added that he expected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump to discuss TPP at their summit meeting next week.