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President Trump has reportedly directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow to review whether the U.S. should rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP in January 2017 but the other 11 participating countries revised the agreement and signed it last month.
Trump routinely disparaged the TPP as a presidential candidate but said earlier this year that he would reconsider U.S. participation if he was “able to make a substantially better deal.” His directive to examine the issue more seriously appears to be related to his accelerating efforts to rebalance the U.S. trade relationship with China. The president prefers bilateral FTAs and had previously indicated a willingness to pursue individual deals with other TPP members, but according to a Bloomberg News article an unnamed White House official said Trump is now willing to consider a multilateral deal because it “would be faster than negotiating one-on-one with each of the 11 other nations.”
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