- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2018

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday downplayed the likelihood of the U.S. rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, saying the request by President Trump is more of a “thought than a policy” right now.

As Mr. Trump prepared to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr. Kudlow told reporters that the U.S. is “in the pre-preliminary stages of any discussions” on rejoining the Obama-era trade agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Japan.

He said the administration would like to reach a separate free-trade pact with Japan.

Mr. Trump told farm-state lawmakers and governors last week that he was directing Mr. Kudlow and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to explore rejoining the TPP, amid increasing concern about Chinese tariffs hurting U.S. farm products.

The president has pulled the U.S. out of TPP in 2017, calling it a bad deal for American workers.

After that White House meeting last week, Mr. Trump tweeted that the U.S. “would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama.”

“We already have BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP, and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!” Mr. Trump said.

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