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Trump Weighs Rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership Amid Trade Dispute With China

The Washington Post (April 13, Werner, Paletta, Kim) is reporting that President Trump on Thursday ordered key administration officials to look at rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the sprawling trade accord he rejected shortly after taking office. "The move would mark a stunning reversal for Trump, who sharply criticized the pact as a 'disaster' and made opposition to global trade deals a centerpiece of his economic agenda as a candidate," notes the Post.  The Obama administration had signed the trade pact with 11 other nations, including Australia and Japan, to reduce tariffs and counter China's influence in the Pacific.  Embracing the TPP would give the White House greater leverage in its escalating trade feud with Beijing.  In addition, it would give U.S. retailers, farms, and other businesses better access to foreign markets if China follows through on its recent threats of new tariffs on American goods.

Bloomberg (April 13, Sink, Talev) states that TPP members said early Friday they welcome Trump's interest but oppose any renegotiation of the agreement to accommodate the United States should it indeed decide to rejoin.  Among those weighing in was Australia Trade Minister Steven Ciobo.  Early this morning, he said, "We welcome the U.S. coming back to the table, but I don't see any wholesale appetite for any material re-negotiation of the TPP-11."  Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's minister in charge of TPP, said it would be very difficult to change the deal at this point, describing it as a "balanced one."

Among those most wary of President Trump's apparent U-turn is New Zealand, notes