President Trump this week ordered top administration officials to look at rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sprawling trade agreement from which he withdrew the United States only days after taking office last year.
Commonly known as the TPP, the trade agreement was a key policy for the Obama administration. Until Trump pulled the country out, the United States had been a signatory along with 11 other countries including Japan, Vietnam and Australia. The deal aimed to lower tariffs among the countries and counter Chinese influence in the region.
Trump has long been a critic of the trade agreement, but he has had a sometimes-complicated relationship with it over the past three years. Here's a timeline.
April 22, 2015
Though discussions of TPP have already been ongoing for years, Trump does not appear to have publicly referred to the trade deal until April 2015 — almost exactly three years ago.
In a series of tweets in late April 2015, Trump offers his now-familiar critique of the trade deal, emphasizing it would be bad for U.S. workers and enable other countries to take advantage of the United States.
May 6, 2015:
Trump appears in radio advertisements criticizing a plan to fast-track TPP thorough Congress.
“I learned a long time ago, a bad deal is far worse than no deal at all,” Trump says in the ads, which are produced by the group Americans for Limited Government. “And the Obama Trans-Pacific Partnership and fast track are a bad, bad deal for American businesses, for workers, for taxpayers. It’s a huge set of handouts for a few insiders that don’t even care about our great, great America.”
“This would send a message to the world that there are consequences for cheating the United States,” Trump says in a statement released at the same time. “It’s time for action. It’s time to Make America Great Again!”
June 3, 2015
Trump continues his criticisms on Twitter.
June 16, 2015
Trump announces his candidacy for U.S. president.
Oct. 7, 2015
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says in an interview with PBS that she does not support TPP, based on what she knows about the deal.
The move appears to be a shift for Clinton. While secretary of state under President Barack Obama, she had promoted the deal, calling it the “gold standard” of trade pacts.
Nov. 11, 2015
At the first Republican presidential debate, Trump speaks again about TPP. However, his comments seem to suggest that he thinks China is a party to the deal.
“If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States — China in particular, because they're so good. It's the number one abuser of this country,” Trump says. “And if you look at the way they take advantage, it's through currency manipulation. It's not even discussed in the almost 6,000-page agreement.”
Another candidate, Rand Paul, objects. “Hey, Gerard?” Paul interjects, speaking to moderator Gerard Baker of the Wall Street Journal. “We might want to point out that China's not part of this deal.”
Later, Trump tweets:
Feb. 4, 2016
Twelve countries, including the United States, sign the TPP deal in Auckland, New Zealand. The countries now have two years to ratify or reject the agreement.
March 14, 2016
Trump uses TPP to criticize Republican rivals, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, on Twitter.
June 6, 2016
At a campaign rally in Ohio, Trump, now the presumptive Republican nominee, offers his harshest criticism of TPP yet, calling it a “rape” of the United States.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country,” Trump says. “That’s what it is, too. It’s a harsh word: It’s a rape of our country.”
July 19, 2016
Republicans officially nominate Donald Trump for president.
July 26, 2016
Ahead of the election, Trump repeatedly makes the suggestion that Clinton plans to stay in the TPP if elected, despite her recent criticism of the trade deal.
Nov. 8, 2016
Trump wins the 2016 presidential election.
Nov. 22, 2016
Trump announces that withdrawing from TPP will be one of a number of executive orders he makes on “day one” of his presidency.
“On trade, I'm going to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Trump says in a video, calling the deal a “potential disaster for our country.”
Jan. 23, 2017
On the third day of his presidency, Trump signs an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “Everyone knows what that means right? We've been talking about this for a long time,” Trump says as he signs the order. “Great thing for the American worker, what we just did.”
July 14, 2017
After meeting in Hakone, Japan, the other 11 countries who were a party to TPP reach an agreement to go ahead with the agreement without the United States.
Jan. 25, 2018
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump suggests that he is open to the TPP if it could be renegotiated somehow.
“I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal. The deal was terrible; the way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP,” he said in an interview with CNBC.
March 8, 2018
Eleven countries sign a free-trade deal called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in Santiago, Chile. The deal is also dubbed the “TPP11.”
April 12, 2018
Trump orders top administration officials Thursday to look at rejoining the TPP. The move, which comes after the announcement of several tariffs earlier in the year and a general fear of a trade war with China, appears to catch many administration officials off guard.
In the evening, Trump attempts to clarify his position in a tweet, suggesting that he wants to modify the original deal so that it is more favorable to U.S. interests.
April 13, 2018
A number of foreign officials welcome Trump's interest in TPP but suggest that it is too late to renegotiate the agreement.
“If this means that President Trump is correctly evaluating the significance and effects of the TPP, it's something we want to welcome,” Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's minister in charge of the TPP, said after a cabinet meeting, according to Kyodo News.
“The 11 participating countries share the thinking that it would be extremely difficult to take out part of the TPP and renegotiate or change it,” Motegi said.
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