Donald Trump defiantly withdrew from the trade pact in one of his first acts as President. (AP: Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump has asked trade officials to explore the possibility of the United States re-joining negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, after he pulled out last year as part of his “America first” agenda.
- Mr Trump made the comments to farm-state politicians in a White House meeting
- US farmers would get better access to overseas markets under the TPP
- Australia played a key role in resurrecting the trade pact earlier this year
Australia and a group of 10 other nations resurrected the trade agreement earlier this year, despite Mr Trump’s decision to abandon the deal.
Farm-state politicians in the US said after a White House meeting with Mr Trump that his trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and his new chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow would be looking into the agreement.
The TPP would open more overseas markets for American farmers.
“I’m sure there are lots of particulars that they’d want to negotiate, but the President multiple times reaffirmed in general to all of us and looked right at Larry Kudlow and said, ‘Larry, go get it done’,” Senator Ben Sasse said.
Eleven countries signed the agreement last month.
Mr Trump’s rejection of the deal rattled allies and raised questions about whether protectionism will impede US economic growth.
Kansas senator Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said he was “very impressed” that Mr Trump had assigned Mr Kudlow and Mr Lighthizer “the task to see if we couldn’t take another look at TPP”.
“That certainly would be good news all throughout farm country,” he said.
The discussions came during a meeting in which Mr Trump told farm-state governors and politicians that he was pressing China to treat the American agriculture industry fairly.
Midwest farmers fear becoming caught up in a trade war as Beijing threatens to impose tariffs on soybeans and other US crops, a big blow to Midwestern farmers, many of whom are strong supporters of Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has mused about re-joining TPP negotiations in the past but his request to his top aides shows a greater level of interest in re-joining the pact he railed against during his 2016 campaign.
During a February news conference with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Trump raised the possibility of re-joining TPP if the negotiators offered more favourable terms.
In a CNBC interview in January, Mr Trump said, “I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal. The deal was terrible.”