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

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

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.

Although Trump already rebuffed his own TPP reversal in a tweet earlier this week—writing that he didn’t in fact “like the deal for the United States. Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work”—that may not be the end of it, given his track record. Should the U.S. actually seek re-entry into the TPP, it would create enormous challenges, but also opportunities for both the U.S. and the 11 remaining parties to the agreement, among them close U.S. allies Canada, Japan and Australia. The modestly revised TPP without the U.S., known as the Comprehensive and Progressive TPP, or CPTPP, was signed on March 8 and is expected to go into effect for at least a majority of the parties by the end of 2018.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review