Multinational trade deal ultimatum

WASHINGTON/TOKYO – US President Donald Trump said the United States would only join the Trans Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade deal his administration walked away from last year, if it offered “substantially better” terms than those provided under previous negotiations.

His comments, made on Twitter late Thursday, came only hours after he had unexpectedly indicated the United States might rejoin the landmark pact, and amid heightened volatility in financial markets as Washington locked horns with China in a bitter trade dispute. Mr Trump had told Republican senators earlier in the day that he had asked United States trade representative Robert Lighthizer and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow to re-open negotiations.

In his Twitter post, which came during Asian trading hours, Mr Trump said the United States would “only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama. We already have BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP, and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!” The TPP, which now comprises 11 nations, was designed to cut trade barriers in some of the fastest-growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region and to counter China’s rising economic and diplomatic clout.

Mr Trump, who opposed multilateral trade pacts in his election campaign in 2016 and criticised the TPP as a “horrible deal”, pulled the US out of the pact in early 2017.

He argued bilateral deals offered better terms for US businesses and workers, and signaled an intention to raise trade barriers.

More Stories