President Donald Trump ’s formal withdrawal from the 12-nation Pacific trade agreement, announced Monday, creates an American policy vacuum in a fast-growing region that includes China and longtime U.S. allies.
“This abrupt action so early in the Trump administration puts the world on notice that all of America’s traditional economic and political alliances are now open to reassessment, renegotiation and possibly even reversal,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist and former top China official at the International Monetary Fund.
But Mr. Trump dismissed U.S. alliances in the campaign, and in his inaugural address Friday he made “America first” the theme, vowing to buttress U.S. borders because “protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.”
Burying the TPP doesn’t mean U.S. exporters can’t access markets in the other countries. Washington already has bilateral trade agreements with Australia, Chile, Peru and Singapore, plus preferred access to Canada and Mexico through the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta. The others are members of the World Trade Organization, which mandates specific tariffs and quotas for all members.
Mr. Trump has embraced the idea of bilateral trade agreements with the U.K.
Union officials, including those who campaigned heavily against Mr. Trump last year, praised him on Monday for withdrawing from TPP.
“Today’s action draws a line in the sand that hopefully is just the start of President Trump’s promised pro-worker, pro-income-growth agenda that prioritizes revitalizing manufacturing,” said Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers.
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