President Donald Trump is apparently considering rejoining the legacy multilateral agreement negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama, according to a Friday Tweet.
A few hours later, Trump clarified that TPP would need to be improved – getting a “better deal” – recalling that there is already a system of Free Trade Agreements with six of the eleven TPP member-states.
The rationale seems to be increasing US leverage in the Pacific, given a confrontation with China; Australia has signalled that Beijing could become a signatory to TPP. The recent trade spat with China has brought to the fore the issue of trade and economic leverage in the Pacific.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Aso hailed the development but made an explicit reference to the “temperament” of the US President and was cautious in his optimism. He pointed to the upcoming meeting between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Trump next week for further developments.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2018