- President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, keeps floating an idea that sounds a lot like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- Trump withdrew the US from the agreement soon after taking office.
- He vigorously campaigned against the deal.
Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s new top economic adviser, keeps suggesting that the president may take trade action on China – and it sounds a lot like the vaunted trade deal he killed as soon as he took office.
During an interview on Monday, Kudlow said Trump might be open to forming an international coalition to combat China on trade. In a CNBC interview last month, the day he was announced as Trump’s top economic adviser, Kudlow said the US could lead “a trade coalition” of countries against China. He repeated those comments in a Friday interview as well.
“You said on Friday that you were going to announce a ‘trade coalition of the willing’ today – other countries that were going to join us in taking on China,” Fox News’ Chris Wallace told Kudlow during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Kudlow said those countries are “coming to us,” citing Japan, Australia, and Canada, as well as the European Union.
As some Republican senators have pointed out, the purpose of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was to do just that: Counter China on trade by building a coalition of trading partners to form an economic alliance in the Pacific region. Trump vigorously campaigned against the trade deal, saying it was one in a long line of faulty agreements the US made, and pulled the US out of it shortly after taking office last year.
During an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” Sunday, Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota encouraged Trump to revisit the deal as he is locked in a standoff with China over new tariffs.
“We had 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim area or right around China, who’d rather do business with us than with China,” Rounds said. “We stopped that negotiation a year ago.”
“I recognise that the president thinks we can get a better deal if we do them individually,” he continued. “But it’s been a year. We don’t have any of them done. So number one, let’s get those done. Because if we’ve got 500 million people that would like to trade with us, these are folks that are around China, you think China doesn’t fear the possibility of having the United States having relations with all of those countries right around the area that they’re trying to expand, once again, into?”
He said that if the US forges stronger trade and military relationships with the TPP countries, “that stops China in their efforts.”
Elsewhere, Republican Sen. John McCain said “the most important opportunity” to confront China’s “unfair trade practices” came in the form of the TPP, which Trump “squandered” when he withdrew from the deal.
Markets have been volatile since the Trump administration first announced the tariffs, though they were up Monday as Kudlow sought to quell investor fears in recent interviews.
Trump, meanwhile, tweeted about China early Monday morning.
“When a car is sent to the United States from China, there is a Tariff to be paid of 2 1/2%,” he wrote. “When a car is sent to China from the United States, there is a Tariff to be paid of 25%. Does that sound like free or fair trade. No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE – going on for years!”
Kudlow’s hint at a TPP-esque agreement have not been the first signs that the administration is considering revisiting the deal. In February, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin floated rejoining the pact, though he said it wasn’t a priority.
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