THE NEW YORK TIMES – KEITH BRADSHER – BEIJING — As trade tensions with China escalate, President Trump has found new appeal in a regional trade pact he once called a “rape of our country.”
The pact’s members — including some of America’s most stalwart allies — might not make it so easy to come back.
Officials in Japan, Australia and New Zealand reacted coolly on Friday to Mr. Trump’s remarks that he would be interested in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership after rejecting it so publicly just a year ago. While the United States would significantly bolster the pact if it signed up, its entry would require intense negotiations — and current members will expect significant concessions from the American side.
Comparing the multicountry trade agreement to “a glasswork,” Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, cautioned against any efforts to change it to accommodate Mr. Trump.
“It’s difficult to bring part of the pact and renegotiate it,” he said, calling it a “well-balanced pact” that carefully addressed the needs of the current 11 member nations.
“We’ve got a deal” already, said Steven Ciobo, Australia’s trade minister, who added, “I can’t see that all being thrown open to appease the United States.”
An early test of the potential for the United States to rejoin could come as soon as next week, when Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister and an ardent champion of the pact, is to meet with Mr. Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
Mr. Trump’s renewed interest in the pact depends on whether the United States could strike a better deal than President Barack Obama did, Mr. Trump said in a Thursday night tweet. Still, negotiations with a group of longtime trading partners could hold appeal at a time of increasing tensions with China.
Posted By KEITH BRADSHERAPRIL 13, 2018
Photo: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters – Representatives of the current members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership met in Santiago, Chile, in March. Admitting the United States could have advantages for all parties, but striking a new deal could be difficult.