Trump Signals About Face on Pacific Trade Deal

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump told Republican lawmakers during a meeting at the White House on Thursday he is willing to rejoin the Trans Pacific Partnership, the international trade agreement he sharply criticized during his campaign for president.

Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement shortly after being inaugurated, having put himself at odds with most of the Republican party by criticizing the deal during the campaign. But when meeting with Republican lawmakers to discuss agricultural issues on Thursday, Trump reportedly said he has directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to reconsider, lawmakers who were at the meeting said.

Republican lawmakers praised Trump’s comments on Thursday afternoon, saying increased trade would help American farmers.

“The best thing the United States can do to push back against Chinese cheating now is to lead the other 11 Pacific nations that believe in free trade and the rule of law,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement. “It is good news that today the president directed [National Economic Council Director] Larry Kudlow and Ambassador Lighthizer to negotiate U.S. entry into TPP.”

Trump’s opening remarks at the meeting also touched on ongoing negotiations regarding NAFTA, which he said are “coming along great.” Trump also said he is working to even out tariffs and border taxes between the United States and China.

The administration last month announced new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, an effort meant to hit Chinese steel.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

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