United States has formally pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the newly sworn-in President Donald Trump signed an executive action to withdraw from the negotiating process of the 12-nation trade deal. It was one of the major international trade initiatives of his predecessor Barack Obama.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time…It is a great thing for the American worker,” Trump said as he signed the decree to withdraw the US from the TPP, which aimed to set trade rules for the 21st century and bind US allies against growing Chinese economic clout.
Trump had vowed during the campaign to withdraw the US from the Pacific trade deal which he argued was harmful to American workers and manufacturing.
Trump had said the free trade agreements were lopsided against the US and vowed to implement more protectionist trade policies as president, rallying voters to the polls with his “America First” slogan.
The TPP was negotiated under former President Barack Obama, but never ratified by Congress, so withdrawing from it will not have an immediate, real effect on US economic policies, although it does signal a new and very different US outlook on trade under Trump.
Its signatories — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Brunei — together represent 40 per cent of the world economy.
In a related development, Trump also signed two other orders including freezing the hiring of federal workers and hitting foreign organisations that provide abortions – two of his other prominent campaign promises.
However, top Republican Senator John McCain described Trump’s decision as a “mistake”.
“President Trump’s decision to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a serious mistake that will have lasting consequences for America’s economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
Commenting that the decision may lead to loosing opportunities to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets, and protect American invention and innovation.
“It will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road at the expense of American workers. And it will send a troubling signal of American disengagement in the Asia-Pacific region at a time we can least afford it,” he noted.
But supporting Trump’s decision, opponent Democratic party’s senator from Ohio Sherrod Brown described it as one that would reboot the manufacturing sector.
“Throwing out TPP is the first necessary step in overhauling our trade policy to put American workers first,” said Brown.
(With inputs from the Agencies)