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Trump Backtracks on TPP

Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Just days after directing senior officials to review whether the U.S. should rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Trump said he doesn’t think the agreement is good for the U.S. Trump withdrew from the TPP in January 2017 but has said several times this year that he might reconsider if the U.S. could achieve a better agreement.

After meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe April 17, Trump said in a Twitter post that Tokyo wants to see the U.S. back in the TPP, which was signed earlier this year by the 11 remaining participants. However, he added that he “[doesn’t] like the deal for the United States” because there are “too many contingencies” and “no way to get out of it if it doesn’t work.” However, a Politico article noted that TPP includes “a withdrawal process similar to what is in NAFTA.”

In remarks to reporters, National Economic Council chief Larry Kudlow added that the idea of the U.S. rejoining the TPP is “more of a thought than a policy” at the moment. “If we choose to go down that path, however, to ‘improve it,’ we will have to be convinced that it’s worth our while,” an Inside US Trade article quoted Kudlow as saying. “And I don’t think the president is yet convinced of that.”

Trump’s post reiterated his preference for bilateral trade agreements, which he said are “far more efficient, profitable, and better for OUR workers.” In a separate post he noted that the U.S. already has bilateral FTAs with six of the other TPP members. He also said the U.S. is “working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan,” but Japanese officials have consistently shown little interest in such an arrangement.

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