Trumping Trade: Alternatives to TPP

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On Monday, Jan. 23, President Donald Trump used his first full weekday in office to sign an executive order pulling the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. The TPP was signed by all 12 parties – representing almost 40 percent of the global economy – last February, but President Obama did not present the pact to Congress for ratification before the end of his term as President. Thus, with Monday’s order, Donald Trump has effectively ended the prospect of American partnership in the deal for at least for the next four years. According to Trump, this order is “a great thing for the American worker,” and press secretary Sean Spicer has hinted that renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will soon follow.

It is not yet clear whether this radical departure from years of presidential free trade initiatives will translate into a period of outright protectionism, or whether Trump will simply use the threat of such measures as a hardnosed negotiating tactic designed to extract new concessions from U.S. trading partners. Either way, the TPP’s 11 other members – including Japan, Canada, and Australia – must now decide whether the pact is worth saving, even without the world’s largest economy.

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