Lawmakers say Trump exploring rejoining Pacific trade talks

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President Trump had asked two of his economic advisers to explore rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement he withdrew from shortly after taking office past year.

Farm-state lawmakers said Thursday after a White House meeting with Trump that he had given that assignment to his trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and his new chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow.

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

Trump's decision to withdraw from the TPP was among his first actions after he was inaugurated in 2017.

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

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

"When the USA walked away, they dropped a lot our intellectual property provisions and labor provisions that made the agreement really important", he said.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, reportedly compared the TPP to a "glasswork," noting that "It's hard to bring part of the pact and renegotiate it", as it's already "well-balanced".


But Mr Ciobo said the process would not be stalled by the United States, after Donald Trump assigned his two top trade advisers to take a fresh look at the agreement.

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

Senator Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican who participated in a meeting with Trump on Thursday where he spoke about rejoining the deal, said: "He multiple times reaffirmed the point that TPP might be easier to join now". Bauerle-Danzman says the USA would be at a disadvantage if it has to agree to new terms.

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

New Zealand already has a separate trade deal with the world's second-largest economy, China.

The reconsideration of TPP comes after the White House and Mr. Trump announced new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and specifically tariffs that will impact 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.

"There's no deadline. We'll pull a team together, but we haven't even done - I mean, it just happened a couple hours ago", Kudlow added.

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