Trump Pulls U.S. Out of TPP in First Major Order

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In one of his first major policy moves as president, Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to withdraw the U.S. from all Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. The decision to pull the country out of the TPP was a long time coming and in line with promises the new president made while on the campaign trail.

In a 2015 interview with Breitbart, Trump said the TPP had failed to include provisions that would protect U.S. workers.

“The deal is so bad because of the fact they don’t cover currency manipulation,” Trump said. “It’s the number-one weapon used by foreign countries to hurt the United States and take away jobs.”

At the time, Trump said the deal was a ready-made gift to China.

“We are giving away what ultimately is going to be a back door for China,” he said. “China will take advantage of it – all the weak points in it, more than anybody else.”

Together with his announced intention to start renegotiating NAFTA, the executive order proves that President Trump is serious about taking a fresh look at free trade.

Trump’s position on trade has put him at odds with leaders in the Republican Party, which has always been in favor of lowering barriers of economic opportunity. However, Trump has insisted that his argument with NAFTA and the TPP aren’t so much ideological but practical. He doesn’t have a problem with “free trade”; he has a problem with the specifics of America’s current international trade agreements.

One problem: NAFTA and the TPP were largely designed and negotiated by liberal presidents who gummed up the works by trying to push their progressive policies. With TPP specifically, President Obama could have gotten the U.S. a better deal if he hadn’t insisted on pushing his climate agenda. Whether he went in that direction to pull Democrats on board or to further his own interests, it weakened what could have been a mighty fine Asian partnership deal.

Hopefully, Trump will revisit the possibility of an Asian free trade alliance before his term is up. Free trade is a good thing for the American economy, but it has to be done right. With the help of conservative economists, business leaders, and a little motto called “America First,” Trump can revamp our approach to trade and bring good-paying jobs back to the U.S.