Ben Sasse: Donald Trump Ready to Rejoin TPP to Help American Farmers

Last month, the other 11 countries that had originally joined the the TPP announced their own agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would offer similar economic benefits but would not include the United States. "It is good news that today the President directed Larry Kudlow and Ambassador Lighthizer to negotiate US entry into TPP", Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, said in a statement. And many economists say the best way to combat a rising China and pressure it to open its market is through multilateral trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which create favorable trading terms for participants.

US President Donald Trump has ordered top administration officials to "negotiate entry" back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the deal he pulled out of a year ago, describing it as a "horrible" one. The remaining countries still ratified a version of the TPP without the United States earlier this year.

After the U.S. defected from the TPP, other members of the trade deal went ahead with it.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been renewing their pitches for TPP - rather than Trump's threats of steep tariffs on steel and other products - as a way to counter China on trade.

In February, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the US was interested in reentering the trade agreement, but he quickly backed off those comments, making it sound like a deal would not materialize. But the point is that the things President Trump has focused most on, intellectual property rights, is actually something TPP is pretty aggressive on.

Roberts and Sasse said they poured cold water on the president's idea that if tariff tensions with China escalate, he will provide federal aid to USA farmers. Farm state lawmakers have pushed for greater sales of the higher ethanol blend to boost demand for the corn-based fuel.

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"We had a awful deal", he said.

The White House meetings came as an array of business executives and trade groups expressed concerns at a congressional hearing about the impact that tariffs will have on their business.

The president is also running into strong pushback from Republican lawmakers, particularly those representing agricultural regions where China's threatened retaliation against US exports would hit hard.

China has countered by announcing its own set of tariffs on USA products.

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Jill Colvin and Matthew Daly in Washington and James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, contributed.

  • Adam Floyd