The President is saying he might want to rejoin TPP.
From the Post …
President Trump told top administration officials Thursday to look at rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multination trade agreement he pulled the United States out of shortly after taking office.
Rejoining the pact would be a major reversal as Trump escalates a trade conflict with China. The Pacific Rim trade deal was intended by the Obama administration as a way to counter China’s influence, but Trump criticized the pact as a candidate and pulled the United States out of the pact in early 2017.
Trump gave the new orders to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow during a meeting with lawmakers and governors on trade issues, according to two GOP senators in attendance.
This may be more relevant information from Roll Call …
[Sen. Ben] Sasse was also upbeat but counseled that Trump often “likes to blue-sky a lot” in such meetings. He said the president looked at Kudlow and said, “Go get it done.”
“Lots of good things from this meeting,” Sasse said. “The president heard unified voices that we need more trade, not less.”
Roberts and Sasse said they poured cold water on the president’s idea that if tariff tensions with China escalate, he will provide federal aid to U.S. farmers.
TPP has many opponents on the leftward side of the spectrum – both for general skepticism about globalization and capital-focused trade liberalization but also for the way it prioritizes intellectual property rights over labor and environmental rights. My own take puts a lot of focus on the geopolitics with of East Asia. But the point is that the things President Trump has focused most on, intellectual property rights, is actually something TPP is pretty aggressive on. The point really isn’t the rights or wrongs of TPP. The point is that Trump had zero idea what TPP even was when he decided to peremptorily pull out of the agreement. It may have been bad for the US or good. But his decision was based on ignorance and impulse. Because there was nothing behind it in the first place, an about-face is completely possible.
For the record, I’m with Sasse: Trump “likes to blue-sky a lot.” That is to say, he was just spouting off and it probably means nothing. But it’s just one more example of the toll of a militantly ignorant President.