Trump Withdraws US from 12-Nation Pacific Rim Trade Deal
President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal on Monday as he started his first full week in office. At the White House, Trump called it a "great thing for the American worker - what we just did.”
The new president, as past Republican chief executives have done, also signed an order reinstating a ban on providing government funds to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about the procedure. In addition, Trump, honoring a campaign pledge, froze hiring for many federal agencies as a way to reduce the cost of government and rein in its growth.
The trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, had been negotiated since 2009 during former President Barack Obama's White House tenure, but the U.S. Congress never ratified it, with numerous lawmakers opposed to or skeptical of the deal. It would have covered trade with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile, Canada, Mexico and four other countries.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that as Trump "has said many times, this type of multinational agreement is not in our best interest, and he’s moving quickly to advance trade policies that increase the competitiveness of the American worker and manufacturer."
Spicer said the new president would pursue bilateral trade agreements with individual countries throughout the world.
The TPP would have been the biggest regional trade deal in history, covering nearly 40 percent of the world's economy and about a third of world trade. China didn't take part in the talks, but appears ready to step into the vacuum and create its own deals with Southeast Asian countries that would have been part of the 12-nation agreement.
In advocating for the deal, Obama said last year, "We can't let countries like China write the rules of the global economy. We should write those rules."
No Breakthrough in Day One of Syria Peace Talks
Peace talks between the Syrian government and rebels groups continue Tuesday in Kazakhstan, after an opening day in which officials said there was no major breakthrough.
The officials said the talks in Astana, backed by Russia and Turkey, did not feature direct negotiations, but rather the two sides communicated indirectly through mediators.
The negotiations are focusing on cementing a nationwide cease-fire mediated by Russia, Iran and Turkey in December – a truce that has largely held.
Prior Syrian peace talks, including the last negotiations a year ago, made little progress in bringing an end to the conflict that began in March 2011.