In a bold move that will likely anger many lawmakers in his own party, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the country's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.
“What we want is fair trade,” Trump said during his meeting with executives. “And we're gonna treat countries fairly, but they have to treat us fairly.”
The announcement was initially made in a statement on the White House’s website that promises to bring jobs and economic prosperity by “rejecting and reworking failed trade deals.” Earlier this month, his team also announced they would instead be focusing on more bilateral trade deals.
“This strategy starts by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and making certain that any new trade deals are in the interests of American workers,” the statement reads, then delivers an ultimatum regarding its commitment to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, the neo-liberal wedge used to open up the Mexican market to trade by promising, and failing to deliver, economic prosperity.
“If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA,” says the statement.
The statement, titled Trade Deals Working For All Americans, emphasizes Trump’s “lifetime of negotiating experience” as a selling point for withdrawing from the 12-nation agreement, which former President Barack Obama adamantly pushed.
Except for the U.S., all other countries have signed the controversial TPP, which promises to open up markets by removing trade barriers, though it has yet to be ratified by any single one. The TPP's member countries include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The deal purports to bring economic prosperity to all by equally opening borders and market opportunities. But critics argue that less developed countries, such as the three commodity-dependent Latin American members, are at an obvious disadvantage when competing against developed countries that export more costly value-added goods.
Environmentalists have also blasted the agreement for allowing member-governments to be sued by corporations claiming profit-loss due to environmental and labor regulations. Thousands of protesters have come out against the deal in Peru and Chile.
While not specifying exactly what type of regulation regarding trade agreements, during the campaign, Trump, the business-tycoon-turned-45th-president on Friday, advocated a one step forward, two steps back approach.
“For every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated,” he said in November of last year.
It plays into Trump’s populist working-class rhetoric, promising to “put American workers and businesses first when it comes to trade” and cracking down on “those nations that violate trade agreements and harm American workers in the process.”
What the statement doesn’t mention is Trump’s disastrous business record, which includes dozens of failed and corrupt businesses and labor disputes over unpaid wages, to name a couple.