Trump orders a review of TPP trade pact stance

Posted April 13, 2018

Ben Sasse says President Donald Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow to look about renegotiating entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal Trump withdrew from on his first day of office.

The move runs counter to Trump's repeatedly expressed belief that he prefers "bilateral" trade agreements - between the United States and one other country - to wide-ranging pacts like TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which he has also said should be rewritten or scrapped.

Other countries in the pact, including Australia and Japan, have moved forward on the trade agreement, recently signing the TPP-11, which didn't include the United States.

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But entering into a new TPP could unify Trump with other trading partners and put new pressure on Beijing to either allow more imports into China or risk being alienated by other Asian countries, that would now received new trade benefits as part of the deal. Trump's rejection of the deal has rattled allies and raised questions at home about whether protectionism will impede US economic growth.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster, done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country", Trump said in June 2016.

Trump first disclosed his request Thursday to a group of lawmakers at a White House meeting on trade.

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The administration is also considering the possibility of the federal government aiding farmers harmed by retaliatory tariffs from China, according to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and advocacy groups. "Undoubtedly, a TPP that includes the US would be stronger and more formidable than one that does not".

Kevin Kennedy, president of a steel fabrication business in Texas, said tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have led US steel producers to raise their prices by 40 percent.

Kennedy is appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, which is examining the impact of tariffs. The U.S. has accused China of unfairly subsidizing targeted sectors and forcing foreign companies to transfer technology in areas like robotics, aerospace and artificial intelligence.

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