Trump will only rejoin TPP if it’s better than Obama’s deal

President Trump said in a late-night tweet Thursday that he will only rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership he backed out of last year if the deal is “substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama,” after lawmakers on Thursday said the president is considering reentering the deal.

The announcement from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, outside the White House came as a shock, given that Mr. Trump made backing out of the agreement a priority in his first week in office.

“The one thing that he did say that I was very impressed with, he has assigned Larry Kudlow and Bob Lighthizer the task to see if we couldn’t take another look at TPP and thats certainly would be good news all throughout farm country,” Roberts, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said Thursday afternoon, following a White House meeting on trade with Republican members from states with large farming industries.

But Mr. Trump on Thursday insisted he will only rejoin TPP with a better deal.

“Would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama,” the president tweeted. “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!”

TPP had broad support among many farmers, as it was aimed at cutting trade barriers, such as tariffs, and opening new markets for exports and imports. The agreement, excluding the U.S., now includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Canada and Mexico.

Last week, Mr. Trump called farmers “great patriots.”

The reconsideration of TPP comes after the White House and Mr. Trump announced new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and specifically tariffs that will impact China. In response, China has announced its own tariffs on the U.S.

Last week, Mr. Trump insisted the U.S. is not in a trade war, because the trade war is “already lost.”

“Well, fellas, we’ve already lost the trade war,” the president said in a radio interview with a New York station last week. “We don’t have a trade war. We’ve lost the trade war because for many years, whether it’s Clinton or the Bushes, Obama, all of our presidents before, for some reason it just got worse and worse. And now it’s $500 billion in deficits and a theft of $300 billion in intellectual property. So you can’t have this.”

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