Return of the TPP?

Amid the trade dispute with China, President Trump is currently weighing the possibility of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to the Washington Post. The original intent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by the Obama administration was to “counter China’s influence,” but Trump did not agree with that decision and pulled the U.S. out of the deal in early 2017. Economic Council Director Larry Ludlow and two GOP Senators suggested that the U.S. needs to “do business with all the people [China’s] doing business with in the region: their competitors.” Trump’s response was to tell the group to consider getting the U.S. back into the TPP.

“Engaging in talks to reenter the TPP would be part of a broader White House strategy to respond to an escalating trade flap between Trump and Beijing.” Trump believes the U.S. has been part of many unfair trade deals with China, so he has taken a hard line approach to dealing with the Chinese on trade. However, he has not succeeded at rallying other countries to “backstop” his approach involving new tariffs. The TPP involved the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and a number of other countries. It was intended to create a sense of power in numbers when dealing with China on trade.

The deal, however, never went into effect. Trump refused to sign the trade deal because he believes the United States has been “ripped off” in large multinational trade deals in the past. Further, he has a general distaste for any Obama-era decisions. President Obama wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in May 2016 aiming to rally support for domestic political backing in entering the deal. He wrote, “increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China.” However, Trump refused to participate in the partnership at that point.


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