Delivering on Promises
Trump’s First Moves: Trade

President Donald Trump will try to make good on his main campaign promise this week by taking several big swings at trade issues. First up on the chopping block: Obama’s signature Pacific trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. CNN:

President Donald Trump on Monday will unravel the behemoth trade deal he inherited from his predecessor, as two sources familiar with the matter told CNN he plans to sign an executive order to withdraw from the negotiating process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Later this week, talks are scheduled between senior U.S. officials and representatives from Canada and Mexico, and Trump himself is set to meet Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on January 31. The main subject of discussion: NAFTA and border security. Reports from Reuters make it sound like his interlocutors are not exactly prepared for the negotiations. One report:

Critics of Pena Nieto say he lacks a clear plan to counter Trump’s calls to limit trade and deport illegal immigrants. Trump has said little about what improvements he wants, apart from halting the migration of U.S. factories and jobs to Mexico.

Another:

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed in a phone call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday to join forces to encourage economic integration in North America, according to a statement from Peña Nieto’s office. […]

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement among Mexico, the United States and Canada, and would move to withdraw if no “fair deal” is forthcoming, according to the White House website.

It’s hard to tell for sure from such sketchy reports, but it looks like the discussions could be rough.

And finally, Theresa May is set to meet with Trump in order to start discussing a bilateral trade deal between the United States and the UK. The Times of London:

Theresa May will offer Donald Trump a “grand bargain” on trade and security this week and invite him to come to Britain later this year and meet the Queen.

The prime minister is due to see Trump in Washington on Friday, becoming the first foreign leader to visit the White House since he became America’s 45th president.

She will use the meeting to kickstart talks on a free trade deal in exchange for British help to force Nato countries to pay for their own defence. She said that she “won’t be afraid” to challenge Trump’s views if she considers them “unacceptable”.

It’s interesting that May will be trying to talk up NATO, an institution Trump notably dismissed as “obsolete” in an interview with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild last week. Everyone in Europe is sure to be carefully parsing the results of that summit on various levels.

One gets the sense that the world has not yet fully wrapped its head around what a Trump Presidency will mean. If that is in fact true, Trump’s determination to come charging out of the gate may pay some early dividends.

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