Republican senators are begging Trump to reverse one of his first major economic decisions

Joshua Lott/Getty Images

  • 25 Republican senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to get the US back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
  • Trump pulled the US out of TPP on the third day of his presidency, but recently said he is open to renegotiating the deal.
  • But recent moves by the Trump administration suggest that the president is favouring more protectionist trade policies.

More than two-dozen Republican senators on Tuesday released a letter they sent to President Donald Trump, requesting the president reengage on talks to join one of the world’s largest trade agreements.

The letter, spearheaded by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, asked Trump to reconsider his decision to pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The president signed an executive order to begin the process of removing the US from TPP negotiations on January 23, 2017 – just three days after he took office.

The multilateral trade deal was designed help lower barriers to trade among 12 countries along the Pacific Rim, including Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia. Since the US backed out, the remaining members have developed a new deal, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.

Trump suggested during an interview in January that the US could get back into the deal if more favourable terms were presented, but no formal talks have been announced.

“I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal,” Trump said in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The deal was terrible, the way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP.”

The GOP senators said in their letter that getting back into the deal would be beneficial for the US economy.

“As you know, increased economic engagement with the eleven nations currently in the TPP has the potential to substantially improve the competitiveness of US businesses, support millions of US jobs, increase US exports, increase wages, fully unleash America’s energy potential, and benefit consumers,” the letter read. “Increasing access to a region and market that has a population of nearly 500 million can create widespread benefits to the US economy.”

Trump repeatedly railed against the TPP during the campaign, saying that the deal was harmful to US workers and even calling it “a rape of our country.”

The GOP lawmakers, much like the Obama administration during TPP negotiations, also argued that the TPP could pay geopolitical dividends by cementing the US’s influence as a counterbalance to China.

“Further, TPP can serve as a way to strengthen ties with our allies in the region, counter the influence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and increase pressure on the PRC to adopt substantive and positive economic reforms,” the letter reads.

While Trump suggested the he is open to renegotiations on TPP, recent moves by the administration suggest a more protectionist lean overall on trade.

Trump recently imposed tariffs on washing machines and solar energy equipment and said he may slap “substantial tariffs” on imports of steel and aluminium.

In addition to those imminent actions, the administration is also engaged in a review of Chinese intellectual property theft and negotiations on a rework of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

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