President Donald Trump signaled on Friday that he would be interested in negotiating a regional trade deal with the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — if the terms of the agreement were changed to benefit the United States.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump acknowledged the U.S. already has bilateral trade relationships with some of the 11 TPP members, adding: “We would consider negotiating with the rest individually or perhaps as a group if it is in the interests of all.”
Trump on Thursday brought up the idea of rejoining a renegotiated TPP for the first time, telling CNBC in Davos that he would sign onto the deal "if we were able to make a substantially better deal." Together, the two comments marked Trump's first public efforts to entertain the idea of the U.S. entering into some form of regional agreement with the Pacific Rim countries since he withdrew from the original TPP just over a year ago.
But even as he appeared to warm to the idea of multilateral trade in some capacity, Trump also emphasized the need to enforce existing trading rules, and he pledged to reform the global system, saying that "unfair trade undermines us all."
“The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices, including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and pervasive state-led economic planning,” he said. That line targeted China in particular, though he refrained from naming any specific countries throughout the speech.
The Trump administration is already in the process of reviewing China’s intellectual property practices. It has launched a series of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases targeting Chinese products, and just last week the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the U.S. had “erred” in allowing Beijing to enter the World Trade Organization because of its heavy and continued use of state-led policies and practices.
“These and other predatory behaviors are distorting the global markets and harming businesses and workers, not just in the United States but around the globe,” he said.