Monday was day #1 for the new administration, and as promised, President Donald Trump got right down to business, signing an executive order that withdraws the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as TPP.
“Everybody knows what that means, right? We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Trump said.
At his first real White House press briefing, Sean Spicer was asked why withdrawing from TPP is the right thing to do.
“When you enter into these multinational agreements, you’re allowing any country, no matter the size, any one of those twelve including us, to basically have the same stature as the United States in the agreement,” Spicer responded. “So we’re basically on par with some very small companies who are getting access to an amazing market, the United States. And in return we’re negotiating at the lowest common denominator. I think when you look at big multinational agreements, multi-lateral agreements, they’re not always in the best interest of the United States. The beautiful thing about a bilateral agreement, is if either of the two parties in the agreement decides at any time they want to get out of the agreement or they’re not being treated fairly, they can renegotiate it much easier.”
Major ag groups, even though they knew it was coming, were not pleased. The American Feed Industry Association expressed extreme disappointment with the President’s executive action.
“TPP, and agreements like it, are key to setting the terms and rules for future trade relationships, creating higher standards and expectations than previous trade deals. While the U.S. economy generally deals with a trade deficit, agriculture is the one segment where our country enjoys a strong trade surplus,” said AFIA President and CEO Joel G. Newman.
The American Soybean Association said TPP represents 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, and it referenced the Peterson Institute’s estimate of increased overall U.S. exports of $357 billion by 2030. The value for U.S. farmers would have been increased annual net farm income of $4.4 billion according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
But Spicer said the move on Monday signals a new approach to trade.
“A president could have come into office and renegotiated it and sent people back to the drawing board,” he said during the press briefing. “It hadn’t gone to Congress yet because it wasn’t finalized. I think this president pulling out of the agreement is not just about this one agreement, but I think it’s symbolic both here in America and around the world of a new era of trade policy, one that’s going to put American workers first and foremost, and one that assures the rest of the world that the way that we negotiate bilateral agreements is going to ensure that we get something out of these deals.”