24 Jan 2017

Trump executive order pulls United States out of TPP trade deal

6:19 am on 24 January 2017

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP).

US President Donald Trump reads an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership prior to signing it in the Oval Office of the White House.

US President Donald Trump with the executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Photo: AFP

The trade pact - which was a linchpin of former President Barack Obama's pivot to Asia - was signed by 12 nations, including New Zealand, and covered 40 percent of the world's economy.

The directive was part of a series of executive orders planned for Monday to begin reshaping US trade policies.

Mr Trump had vowed to quit the TPP during his presidential campaign.

He has criticised the trade agreement as a "potential disaster for our country", arguing it harmed the US manufacturing sector.

The massive trade deal was negotiated in 2015 by nations including New Zealand, the US, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Canada and Mexico

New Zealand's parliament passed a bill allowing it to ratify the TPP last year, but it had not yet been ratified by all the individual countries.

Its aim was to strengthen economic ties and boost growth, including by reducing tariffs.

It also included measures to enforce labour and environmental standards, copyrights, patents and other legal protections.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump pledged to "massively" cut regulations and taxes on companies that keep jobs in the US.

This followed a meeting with executives from companies including defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin, apparel maker Under Armour, appliance manufacturer Whirlpool, electric-carmaker Tesla and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.

After meeting business leaders, Mr Trump also warned them he would impose a "very major border tax" on companies that move manufacturing out of the US.

"We're going to be cutting regulation massively", but the rules will be "just as protective of the people", he told reporters after the morning meeting in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

He pledged to lower corporate taxes to 15 percent or 20 percent from the current 35 percent and lift regulations by up to 75 percent.

Since winning the White House, Mr Trump has upbraided US companies that have moved factories overseas.

Vowing to slap taxes on foreign-manufactured products, he told executives on Monday: "All you have to do is stay."

According to his schedule, the president will meet labour leaders in the afternoon.

The president is also expected to an sign executive order to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), a trade pact between the US, Canada and Mexico.

Mr Trump has blamed Nafta for depriving American workers of their jobs.

The US Senate will meanwhile vote on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be CIA director.

Rex Tillerson's nomination as Secretary of State was effectively assured on Monday as Senator Marco Rubio dropped his objections.

On Sunday, Mr Trump spoke by telephone with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the White House situation room.

Mr Trump said his conversation with Mr Netanyahu - who had a tense relationship with Mr Obama - was "very nice".

A White House summary of the call did not mention Mr Trump's plan to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would overturn two decades of US policy.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 requires the US president to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem unless he certifies every six months that it is not in the national interest.

Every president since Bill Clinton has upheld the measure, and President Obama most recently did so on 1 December.

Mr Trump has until May to make a formal decision.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the administration was "at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject".

On Saturday, Mr Trump launched a stinging attack on media reporting of attendance figures and the weather at his inauguration.

During a heated exchange on NBC on Sunday, his senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said the White House had "alternative facts", a phrase that quickly went viral.

- BBC

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