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Opinion

US needs Asian partners in economic fight with China

Trump right to reconsider TPP even if allies resist renegotiation bid

| North America
Right call this time, but rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be much harder than getting out.   © Reuters

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his third day in office. "A great thing for American workers," he said, as he signed the executive order January 23, 2017, terminating U.S. participation in a trade agreement he had called "another disaster done and pushed by special interests."

Now, 15 months later, he has directed his top trade officials to look for a way back into the TPP. If successful, it would undo one of the worst blunders of his administration, which has not exactly been error-free. And it would reassure Japan and other U.S. trading partners in Asia that the strategic interests of the U.S. in the region are strong enough to overcome Trump's impulses. In the face of an increasingly assertive China, the TPP countries have a strong stake in doing everything possible to bring the U.S. back into the fold. But reopening the door on TPP is certain to be far harder than closing it.

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