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World leaders say Trump is too late on trade: ‘We’ve got a deal’

The international community just added to Trump’s humiliation by throwing cold water on his attempts to re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

By Dan Desai Martin - April 13, 2018
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Donald Trump

Trump gave up all leverage with key trading partners with his tantrum-fueled withdrawal from the carefully negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. His recent attempt to slink back to the negotiating table on the 11-country agreement received a cool reception from world leaders, who know they hold all the cards now.

“We’ve got a deal” already, said Steven Ciobo, Australia’s trade minister. “I can’t see that all being thrown open to appease the United States.”

Trump, who once called the trade agreement a “rape of our country,” recently asked his administration to explore the possibility of rejoining the group. (Sidenote: Trump’s use of language is striking, considering he has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault, appointed alleged rapist Steve Wynn as the Republican Party’s national finance chair, and defended a staffer accused of beating his wife.)

Trump’s flip-flop on the issue is likely based more on blithe ignorance than any sort of policy conviction. “Trump has been quizzing people for several weeks about whether they think he made a big mistake by dumping TPP,” sources told Politico’s Morning Money. “He realizes he screwed it up but I don’t see how he can get back in,” one person close to the president said.

Other countries know Trump lost an incredible amount of power and leverage by his thoughtless withdrawal. Re-opening the yearslong negotiations will be a tough proposition.

“It’s difficult to bring part of the pact and renegotiate it,” said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary. He called the deal a “well-balanced pact” that carefully addressed the needs of the current 11 member nations. Highlighting the impotence of Trump, Suga cautioned against efforts to make changes just to accommodate Trump’s desires.

Trump’s bungling of trade issues is quickly becoming a hallmark of his administration. After being left behind as other countries finalized a massive trade deal without U.S. input, Trump decided to ignite a trade war with China. His reckless language caused major disruptions to the stock market, which has been declining in recent weeks.

Further, the trade war has infuriated traditional Trump supporters. Brian Duncan, Illinois hog farmer and vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, told the Chicago Tribune, “This is significant, real and serious for rural America.” Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) was equally blunt, calling the tariffs from Trump “a fine mess that they have gotten us into.”

Trump has made a mess of things, and his impulsive whims are sure to give pause to any country willing to engage in negotiations.

For a man who made headlines for a book titled “The Art of the Deal,” Trump sure could use help with high-stakes, high-pressure global negotiations.


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