Trump signs order to withdraw US from TPP trade deal

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump signs an executive order for a federal hiring freeze in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to withdraw the United States from the negotiating process of a sweeping Pacific trade deal he inherited from his predecessor.

Trump repeatedly vowed during his presidential campaign to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement meant to bind the US and Pacific Rim countries.

As a candidate, the billionaire businessman argued that free trade agreements like TPP were lopsided against the US and harmful to American workers and manufacturing. He promised to implement more protectionist trade policies as president.

The executive order on TPP issued Monday was the Trump administration’s first major action to radically reshape US trade policies.

The twelve-country agreement was negotiated under former president Barack Obama, but never ratified by Congress as it faced stiff opposition from Republicans and some Democrats.

Trump will move to begin individual trade negotiations with the countries involved in the TPP, a White House official told NBC News.

US President Donald Trump holds up his executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Photo by AFP)

For two years, the Obama administration negotiated with the 11 Pacific Rim countries to formulate the agreement that was set to lower trade barriers in a region that accounts for two-fifths of the global economy. 

Trump's election victory, however, dealt a blow to the negotiations, sending shockwaves in Asian capitals that had pinned their economic hopes on the deal.

Trump, who was inaugurated on Friday, is also expected to sign an executive order to eliminate the free trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico, known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The deal, crafted by former president Bill Clinton and enacted in 1994, was intended to remove most trade tariffs between the three countries.

Trump has blamed NAFTA for destroying America's manufacturing sector and called it "one of the worst deals ever" during an October presidential debate with her Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.


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