Eleven countries have moved forward with a trans-pacific trade pact despite President Trump pulling the U.S. out of the negotiations of the deal last year. Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam gathered in Santiago this week to sign the renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The agreement creates one of the largest free-trading blocs in the world covering nearly 400 million people and $9 trillion in combined GDP. Upon being fully implemented, it will comprise about 14% of the world’s economy.
Trump eschewed the previous iteration of the pact which the Obama administration spent years negotiating. Trump signed an executive order pulling the U.S. out of the trade pact hours after being inaugurated. He is more in favor of negotiating one-on-one, bilateral agreements with trading partners, which he believes yields the U.S. better terms.
During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump often described the TPP as a “disaster” and once referred to it as a “rape” of the U.S.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country,” Trump said. “That’s what it is, too. It’s a harsh word: It’s a rape of our country,” he said.
“Great thing for the American worker what we just did,” Trump said after signing the order pulling the U.S. out of the pact in January 2017.
The President has caused quite a bit of controversy in recent weeks after signing import tariffs of 25% and 10% respectively, on steel and aluminum. After hearing pleas from the nations, as well as other stakeholders, he agreed to exempt the nations of Canada and Mexico from them. He has also a desire to grant Australia a waiver as well.
Upon signing the tariffs, he reiterated that protecting American industry was one of his main campaign promises and a main goal of the administration. “We’re going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign,” he said, adding that steel and aluminum were the “backbone of our nation” and the “bedrock of our defense and industrial base.”