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Trump says U.S. will only join Pacific trade pact if terms are improved

Reuters  |  WASHINGTON 

(Reuters) - U.S. said the would only join the Trans Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade pact his administration walked away from last year, if it offered "substantially better" terms than those provided under previous negotiations.

His comments, made on late Thursday, came only hours after he had unexpectedly indicated the might rejoin the Trump had told Republican senators earlier in the day that he had asked Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and to re-open negotiations.

In his post, which came during Asian trading hours, Trump said the would "only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama. We already have BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP, and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!"

Policymakers in the region on Friday responded to Trump's initial announcement about the possibility of the U.S. rejoining the trade deal with scepticism.

"If it's true, I would welcome it," Japanese told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Friday and before Trump's tweet. Aso added that the facts needed to be verified.

Trump "is a person who could change temperamentally, so he may say something different the next day", Aso said.

also flagged challenges to the Untied States rejoining the pact.

"If the United States, it turns out, do genuinely wish to rejoin, that triggers a whole new process," she told reporters in

The TPP, which now comprises 11 nations, was designed to cut trade barriers in some of the fastest-growing economies of the region and to counter China's rising economic and diplomatic clout. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact in early 2017, citing concerns about U.S. jobs.

Even before Trump's withdrawal last year, U.S. participation in the pact was seen as increasingly unlikely due to opposition in the U.S.

The entered TPP negotiations in 2008. In 2016, then abandoned attempts to push the pact through

The other 11 countries forged ahead with their own agreement without U.S. participation, and in the process eliminated chapters on investment, government procurement and intellectual property that were key planks of Washington's demands.

The pact includes and Canada, which are in the process of renegotiating the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the

A said on Thursday there had not been any formal outreach from the about the pact.

Japanese will meet Trump next week. Japan, a close U.S. ally, is a member of the TPP.

Trump's election campaign in 2016 opposed multilateral trade pacts and argued bilateral deals offered better terms for U.S. businesses and workers.

But Trump is struggling to get support from other countries for his recent threat to impose import tariffs on and the U.S. farm lobby is arguing that retaliation by would hit American agricultural exports.

(Reporting by David Chance, and in WASHINGTON, David Ljunggren in OTTAWA, Tetsushi Kajimoto in TOKYO and Charlotte Greenfield in WELLINGTON; Writing by Shri Navaratnam; Editing by Sam Holmes)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, April 13 2018. 10:54 IST