Trump moves to pull U.S. out of TPP

Calls the withdrawal ‘great thing for the American worker’; also promises to cut taxes ‘massively’

January 24, 2017 01:38 am | Updated 01:38 am IST - Washington:

Early days:  U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence at the White House, before the swearing in of senior staff on Sunday.

Early days: U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence at the White House, before the swearing in of senior staff on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump moved on Monday to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), making good on a pledge to scrap a deal he denounced as a “job killer”.

Embarking on his first full week in office, the 45th U.S. President began rolling out his policy agenda after a tumultuous first weekend for his administration by signing a series of executive orders.

Among the first was a memo on withdrawing from the vast TPP trade pact, which aimed to set trade rules for the 21st century and bind U.S. allies against growing Chinese economic clout.

Death knell for the pact?

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the executive order in the Oval Office. “Great thing for the American worker what we just did.”

Promoted by Washington and signed by 12 countries in 2015, the TPP had yet to go into effect and U.S. withdrawal is likely to sound its death knell. Its signatories together represent 40% of the world economy.

The real estate mogul’s White House bid was fuelled in part by a pledge to overturn trade deals — such as TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement — that he says have drained U.S. jobs and destroyed its industrial heartlands.

Mr. Trump also signed two other orders, on freezing the hiring of federal workers and hitting foreign NGOs that help with abortion.

Mr. Trump is looking to shift attention firmly back onto his policy agenda after a first few days that put his incoming administration on the back foot. “Busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security,” he tweeted early on Monday.

Since he was sworn in on Friday, Mr. Trump’s White House has been pilloried for lying to the public about inaugural crowds and over a campaign-style speech by the President before a memorial to fallen CIA officers.

On Sunday, he had vowed to swiftly start renegotiating NAFTA in upcoming talks with the leaders of Canada and Mexico. Mr. Trump has already moved to curb his predecessor Barack Obama’s health care reforms and more quick legal tweaks — in the form of executive orders — are expected on immigration and limiting environmental legislation.

Also, in a meeting with CEOs on Monday, Mr. Trump promised to cut taxes “massively” and slash regulations by 75%. He also warned the 12 corporate CEOs gathered at the White House that he would impose a “border tax” on goods imported by companies that move jobs out of the U.S.

Speaks to Netanyahu

In another development, the President on Sunday discussed Iran with Benjamin Netanyahu and invited the Israeli Prime Minister to visit the White House early next month. The two leaders spoke by telephone and “agreed to continue to closely consult on a range of regional issues, including addressing the threats posed by Iran”, the White House said, signalling the new administration's tougher line on Tehran. The statement also said Mr. Trump invited Mr. Netanyahu “to an early February meeting at the White House”.

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