President Trump acted on Monday to keep a signature campaign promise: withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Trump’s action, an executive order, is mostly symbolic.
As he signed the order in the Oval Office, Trump said, “We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” adding it’s “a great thing for the American worker.”
Trump also signed two other executive orders, though NPR has not seen the official language on the orders yet. One is expected to impose a hiring freeze on federal workers, except for defense-related positions; the other may be a reinstatement of the so-called Mexico City policy, which forbids U.S. funding of international family planning organizations that promote or provide abortions.
The TPP, as it’s known, is a trade agreement with 12 Pacific rim nations. It was never ratified by the U.S. because of congressional opposition, but which was strongly backed by the Obama administration. It would create a free trade area stretching from Japan to Chile, and was seen as an effort to create a counter weight to China, which is not a party to the agreement.
During the campaign, Trump called the TPP “a horrible deal” and a “potential disaster,” that would hurt American workers and companies.
His action on TPP is Trumps first effort to address the concerns over trade that helped propel him to the Oval Office, and there are many more expected. He is expected to begin talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
In a meeting with business leaders this morning, Trump said, “We want to make our products here.”
He also vowed to retaliate against businesses that close U.S. factories in favor of foreign plants. “If you go to another country,” Trump said, “we are going to be imposing a very major border tax.”
Trump said that right now, “we don’t have free trade because we’re the only one that makes it easy to come into the country.”