Trump could be wooed on a sweetened TPP

28/01/2019 Posted by admin

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has discussed the TPP with US President Donald Trump.US President Donald Trump continues to play hard to get on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, telling reporters he does not want to join the massive free trade pact with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and eight other nations.

But, in almost the same breath, dangled the prospect he could be wooed.

The author of The Art of the Deal, speaking at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, said he is only interested in signing up the US to the TPP if the other members sweetened the deal.

That seems unlikely.

“I don’t want to go back into TPP, but if they offered us a deal I can’t refuse on behalf of the US I would do it,” Mr Trump told reporters after two days of talks with Mr Abe.

“I like bilateral deals.

“I think it’s better for our countries and better for our workers.”

Mr Trump had called the TPP a “rape of our country” before his 2016 election win and pulled the US out of the pact on his first work day in the White House.

Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Brunei, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Malaysia and Mexico moved ahead on the TPP without the US and in March had a formal signing ceremony for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also known as TPP11.

US farmers, facing a major disadvantage against Australian competitors in key markets including Japan, and Republican members of Congress have pressured Mr Trump to take a second look at the TPP.

Mr Trump, also engaged in a potential trade war with China, floated the idea of the US rejoining the TPP on the eve of Mr Abe’s US visit.

The likelihood of that soured on Tuesday night – after the first day of talks with Mr Abe – when Mr Trump tweeted his disapproval of the TPP because of “too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work”.

The US and Japan will now actively seek a one-on-one free trade deal.

Mr Trump noted the US already has bilateral free trade agreements with Australia and five of the other TPP nations.

Mr Abe, a main architect of the TPP11 with Australia, on Wednesday emphasised Japan’s preference the US joined TPP.

“Our country’s position is TPP is the best for both of the countries and based on that position we shall be dealing with the talks,” Mr Abe said.

Japan has been targeted by Mr Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs.

The president suggested if the bilateral agreement went well the US would drop the tariffs.

“We’ll see what happens,” Mr Trump said.

Australian Associated Press

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