Moral Low Ground

US Government

Trump Signs Executive Order Withdrawing US from Trans-Pacific Partnership

Anti-TPP protest in New Zealand. (Photo: Peg Hunter/Flickr Creative Commons)

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order formally withdrawing the United States from the highly controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

The Washington Post reports Trump signed the order after a meeting with business leaders to discuss American manufacturing. Trump called the move a “great thing for the American worker.” The president has previously warned that the 12-nation pact would be a “potential disaster for our country” and said he prefers bilateral trade deals.

The TPP was negotiated by the Barack Obama administration but was never approved by Congress. The agreement aims to link markets in a dozen Pacific Rim nations encompassing some 40 percent of the world’s economy. The deal was an important element of Obama’s neoliberal trade agenda and Asian pivot strategy. However, opponents have blasted the TPP as one of the worst trade deals in history. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) summed up opposition to the TPP during his presidential campaign:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy. It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world.

The TPP is a treaty that has been written behind closed doors by the corporate world. Incredibly, while Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies have full knowledge as to what is in this treaty, the American people and members of Congress do not. They have been locked out of the process.

“When giant corporations see the TPP and the American people don’t, we all lose,” concurred Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), another leading TPP opponent. While it may appear unusual for a Republican president to be aligned with the most progressive lawmakers on the issue, Trump campaigned as a champion of the working class — although he has assembled a cabinet full of billionaires and millionaires — and as a fierce opponent of trade deals. Last year, he slammed the TPP as the “rape of our country… done by wealthy people that want to take advantage of us.”

Trump is also expected to sign an executive order to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “We will be starting negotiations having to do with NAFTA,” Trump said on Sunday. “We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border.”

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