Just one week into his term as President of the United States, an emboldened Donald Trump took the controversial step of withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TTP). Now over one year later, U.S. Republican Senator Ben Haase announced that Trump was going to direct National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate re-entering the TTP agreement once again. Trump’s decision to leave the partnership originally was met with criticism from both sides of the aisle, with many believing that the increasingly protectionist philosophy of Trump would lead to a massive gap in the country’s economic and trade policies.
The revelation by Haase was later confirmed by White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters. Walters stated that although Trump initially believed the TTP was unfair to American farmers and laborers, he has asked Kudlow and Lightizer to look into the possibility of negotiating a better trade deal for the country and its workers. Critics of the President believe this new openness toward the trade deal Trump was once so adamantly opposed to could possibly be in response to the intense criticism he has faced as a result of the newly announced tariffs imposed against China. The possibility of a new trade deal would also be a shift for a President who has generally opposed multilateral agreements with groups of countries, instead favoring bilateral ventures.
After Trump withdrew from the TTP in January 2017, the 11 remaining partner countries joined a smaller deal named the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The current nations that are part of this arrangement are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. It would appear that Trump is angling for support of a new deal, as he took to Twitter late Thursday evening to promote his cause, claiming that the nation would consider rejoining the agreement if it were “substantially better” than what was offered in the past.