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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands during a news conference at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Fla., April 18, 2018 (AP photo by Lynn Sladky).

What to Make of Trump’s Recent Second Look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Thursday, April 19, 2018

President Donald Trump surprised almost everyone, including his closest economic advisers and both free trade advocates and protectionists in Congress, when he announced last week that the United States would consider rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the huge Pacific Rim trade pact that he withdrew from days after taking office. Trump had heavily criticized the TPP, the signature economic deal of the Obama administration, even calling it the “rape of our country” during the 2016 presidential campaign.

In light of such statements, most observers believed the Trump administration intended to pursue only bilateral free trade agreements, if any at all. As Trump had pledged, his administration would focus on renegotiating existing deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S. free trade pact with South Korea, known as KORUS, in an effort to obtain better terms that would discourage American enterprises from manufacturing abroad. ...

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