Trump says US could re-join TPP in right circumstances

Donald Trump has criticised Mexico for allowing migrants from Central America to walk toward the US border. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Thursday the US could re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership if it could get a “better” deal.

The decision would mark an abrupt about-face for a president who had campaigned against the deal and swiftly withdrew from it after taking office last year.

“Would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama,” he wrote in a late night tweet. “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!”

The statement came after the White House announced earlier in the day that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and top economic adviser Larry Kudlow were re-examining Washington’s position.

Trump has frequently disparaged multilateral trade deals, calling the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement a “disaster.”

The decision was welcomed by lawmakers from agricultural states.

But his most hawkish trade advisers, who now dominate his cabinet after high-level departures, have expressed a strong preference for negotiating bilateral agreements, which they say play to US advantages.