Published: Sun, April 15, 2018

Trump will only rejoin TPP if it's better than Obama's deal

Trump will only rejoin TPP if it's better than Obama's deal

On the heels of bombshell news that President Donald Trump is exploring the possibility of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the United States is seeking to contain expectations.

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

"Republicans should not be giving Obama fast-track authority on trade".

During his campaign, Trump made the push against the TPP a cornerstone of his global policy.

Trump withdrew the USA from the accord during his first week in office. During the campaign, he had criticized the agreement, calling it a product of the special interests that was a "continuing rape" of the country.

Members of the partnership, including officials from Japan and Australia, seemed hesitant to accept Trump's possible change of heart.

The agreement partners had little appetite for substantial negotiation, but would welcome the U.S. coming back to the table for further talks, he said.

And Trump is unlikely to rejoin "without further concessions", suggests The New York Times, which could further complicate matters, as Japan has reportedly already "given all the concessions it could".

"It's not yet clear how real it is, given the different views in the USA administration", Trade Minister David Parker said.

An early test of the potential for the United States to rejoin could come as soon as next week, when Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister and an ardent champion of the pact, is to meet with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. A renegotiated deal without the US was signed in March.

Trump tweeted that he "would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better" than the one negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

"We already have BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP, and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!" he wrote.

Director of National Government Relations Robert White says it could help alleviate some of the financial pain farmers are feeling as a result of back-and-forth tariffs with China.

Among those who supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership was Trump's nominee to head the State Department, Mike Pompeo, who said during his confirmation hearing Thursday that the United States needs "to be deeply engaged" in dealing with China. "We will pull a team together, but we haven't even done - I mean, it just happened a couple of hours ago".

As he often does, the President started to change gears after hearing complaints from important constituents - in this case, Republican lawmakers who said farmers and other businesses in their states would suffer from his trade approach because they send many of their products overseas.

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