Senators: Trump is reconsidering his stance on TPP trade deal

President Donald Trump has called on advisers to look for a way back in on TPP.    
   Chris Kleponis-Pool  Getty Images

Republican Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska said Trump has deputized Lighthizer and Kudlow to review the Trans-Pacific Partnership, something he campaigned heavily against.

Kevin Kennedy, president of a steel fabrication business in Texas, says tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have led US steel producers to raise their prices by 40 percent. The Pacific Rim trade deal was intended by the Obama administration as a way to counter China's influence, but Trump criticized the pact as a candidate and pulled the United States out of the pact in early 2017. Trump has always boasted that he preferred bilateral trade agreements that could be leveraged to the benefit of the USA and American workers.

Sasse and other members of Congress and governors from agriculture states met with the president at the White House to express concerns about higher China tariffs hurting American farmers. He said at the time that he would pursue individual deals with the other countries. The U.S. has accused China of unfairly subsidizing targeted sectors and forcing foreign companies to transfer technology in areas like robotics, aerospace and artificial intelligence. Back in June 2016, Trump claimed that the agreement was, in fact, "pushed by special interests who want to rape our country". The other countries include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The president has mused publicly about rejoining the deal before, suggesting he would re-enter if he could negotiate more favorable terms. The point is that Trump has zero idea what TPP even was when he chose to peremptorily pull out of the agreement. In fact, in February, a letter from 25 congressional Republicans had been delivered to Trump asking that he "re-engage" with the TPP.

Mr Trump says he is directing his advisors to look into the possibility of re-signing the deal in a bid to protect the agricultural sector which could be affected by a trade war with China. And, sure, a new TPP might allow the president and his team to find a framework for how they might a approach new NAFTA. Sen Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was among a handful of senators who recently visited China to meet with government and business leaders there.

One of Trump's first moves in office was to formally scrap U.S. participation in the pact - which had been criticized by politicians from the left as well as the right as being overly secretive and potentially damaging to workers' rights. We have agreements with several of them already.

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