Trump wants back into Pacific trade deal, say GOP senators

Trump wants back into Pacific trade deal, say GOP senators

By Luke Vargas   
Published
President Trump at a White House meeting Thursday during which he reportedly expressed interest in the U.S. rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. April 12, 2018. Courtesy: White House
President Donald Trump at a White House meeting Thursday during which he reportedly expressed interest in the U.S. rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. (White House photo)

Trump once called the TPP a "death blow for American manufacturing," and it's unlikely the newly-signed agreement will be more to his liking.

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump is reportedly expressing interest in the U.S. rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, a deal he campaigned against in 2016 and officially exited during his first weeks as president.

Republican senators fresh off a meeting with Trump on Thursday said he has ordered a review of whether the U.S. can join the trade deal.

Nebraska Republican Sen, Ben Sasse, who was part of a group of elected officials who met with the president to talk trade on Thursday, said economic adviser Larry Kudlow will lead the TPP effort.

“The president multiple times reaffirmed in general to all of us and looked right at Larry Kudlow and said, ‘Larry, go get it done.’ ” 

Sasse backed Trump’s apparent policy shift, saying agricultural states need new markets, like those TPP could open up. And Sasse also said the deal has the added benefit of uniting countries against unfair Chinese trade practices.

“The real strategy we need is to lead all of those rule of law nations in the Pacific who would rather be aligned with the U.S. than with China.”

When President Trump ordered the U.S. withdrawal from TPP trade negotiations in January 2017, the deal was widely seen as catering to American interests, given that U.S. negotiators helped shape the deal since 2008.

But when 11 remaining countries inked the final deal — now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — in March, the agreement lacked many of the provisions U.S. negotiators had long argued to see included.

For a deal Trump once called “the death blow for American manufacturing,” it’s unlikely the newly signed agreement will be more to his liking.

Gary Hufbauer is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics:

“They basically took the old TPP agreement and they stripped away about 20 provisions, because which [President Obama’s U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman] had insisted on in terms of U.S. interests.

One was data exclusivity on biologic products, which are very complicated products made by U.S. firms. Another one was the copyrights. The global copyright provision is 50 years after the author’s death. The U.S. standard is 75 years, and the other countries accepted the U.S. in the TPP, but now they’ve reversed to the standard 50.”

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