Trump Reverses Course and Proposes Rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Damascus sky lights up with missile fire as a U.S.-led coalition launches an attack early Saturday targeting different parts of the Syrian capital

Updated |As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump called the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership "a disaster" and "a rape to our country".

The decision would mark an abrupt about-face in the of a president who had campaigned against the trade deal.

In a CNBC interview in January, Trump said, "I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal".

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

Following a meeting between the president, his advisers and members of Congress today, Sasse told reporters that Trump had advanced in his thinking on TPP, which he withdrew from shortly after taking office past year.

Trump railed against the original TPP and other multilateral trade deals throughout the 2016 campaign, arguing that poorly negotiated trade agreements destroyed United States jobs.

Despite being harshly critical of the agreement, Trump had suggested in recent months that he would consider rejoining the group if it could be altered to suit administration priorities, but without providing specifics.

Trump to take another look at TPP 'disaster'

The risk of an escalating trade war with China has panicked American farmers and ranchers, who send many of their products overseas.

"If the Trump administration doesn't pose too many demands, it is likely that the other TPP members will see the value of the bringing the US back into the fold", said Eswar Prasad, Cornell University professor of trade policy.

The White House meeting was aimed at appealing to the Midwest lawmakers at a time of high anxiety because of the China trade dispute. "Undoubtedly, a TPP that includes the USA would be stronger and more formidable than one that does not". Farm state lawmakers fear that would reduce demand for the biofuels and violate the RFS law.

Fischer said that the president also discussed the importance of ethanol and the renegotiation of NAFTA with the president.

The meetings came as an array of business executives and trade groups expressed alarm to federal lawmakers Thursday about the impact that tariffs will have on their business.

One of Trump's first moves in office was to formally scrap USA 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.

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Jill Colvin, Paul Wiseman and Matthew Daly in Washington and James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, contributed.




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