Trump weighs re-entering Trans-Pacific Partnership, GOP senators say

Trump gave the new orders to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow during a meeting with lawmakers and governors on trade issues, according to two GOP senators in attendance.

In a statement later, Reynolds said Trump understood efforts to open markets, promised to end a trade dispute with China and suggested he would boost the use of E15, a 15 percent mixture of corn-based ethanol and gasoline.

The problem is that TPP is going to open up markets and supply chains for numerous participants.

Roberts and Sasse said they poured cold water on the president's idea that if tariff tensions with China escalate, he will provide federal aid to US farmers. "President Trump looked at Larry Kudlow and said, 'Get it done'". In January, he said he would be open to reconsidering the deal if the U.S. could strike a "substantially better" agreement.

Rejoining the pact would be a major reversal as Trump escalates a trade conflict with China.

The president says China has consistently treated USA agriculture unfairly and his administration is "changing things with respect to trade". "That's really good news for America", said the Nebraska Republican.

During a February news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump raised the possibility of rejoining TPP if the negotiators offered more favorable terms. "The way the deal was structured was awful If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP".

The announcement was welcomed by lawmakers from some farming states.

The president is also running into strong pushback from Republican lawmakers, particularly those representing agricultural regions where China's threatened retaliation against US exports would hit hard.

The apparent decision comes after the 11 other TPP countries went ahead last month and signed the pact in Santiago, Chile - without the United States.

The meetings came as an array of business executives and trade groups expressed alarm to federal lawmakers Thursday about the impact that tariffs will have on their business.

Trump did not give Japan, one of the U.S.'s closest allies, an exemption from new steel and aluminum tariffs, making it less likely that they would rush to the White House's defense during a trade war.

The U.S. and China are in the early stages of what could be the biggest trade battle in more than a half century.

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Jill Colvin, Paul Wiseman and Matthew Daly in Washington and James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, contributed.

  • Rogelio Becker