President Donald Trump has signed an executive order officially withdrawing U.S. participation from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The massive deal would have lowered tariffs and established new rules in free trade between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries.
On Jan. 23, Trump signed three executive orders that withdrew the U.S. from TPP, placed a freeze on the hiring of federal workers in all departments except for the military, and reinstated a ban on funding for overseas organizations that perform abortions, The New York Times reports.
"We've been talking about this for a long time," Trump said as he signed an executive order officially ending American involvement in the TPP. The president added that the move was a "great thing for the American worker."
Trump had campaigned against TPP throughout the 2016 presidential race, blasting the trade deal as detrimental to American laborers and the manufacturing sector. The trade pact had been championed by former President Barack Obama, whose administration had negotiated the deal over eight years.
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The TPP would have established more open trade policy and cemented intellectual property laws between the U.S. and countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had also campaigned against the TPP during the presidential race, despite having helped shaped the trade pact during her tenure in the Obama administration.
Trump has also signaled that he will seek to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade deal that had lowered tariffs between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. That deal was formed by former President George H.W. Bush and signed into law by former President Bill Clinton.
On Jan. 20, the White House announced that the new administration would call for both Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the terms of NAFTA or face U.S. withdrawal from the trade pact, USA TODAY reports.
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"President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA," the statement read. "If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States' intent to withdraw from NAFTA."
While an exit from the TPP had been popular on the campaign trail, Trump's latest executive order has drawn concern from critics, who assert that the president should have renegotiated the trade deal instead of withdrawing from it altogether.
"Trump has single-handedly given away an enormous source of leverage over China," senior fellow Edward Alden of the Council on Foreign Relations told CNN Money. "The first rule of negotiating is don’t give away something for nothing, and he's done that right off the bat."
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona warned that U.S. withdrawal from the TPP would give China more control over the Pacific Rim, The Hill reports.
"President Trump's decision to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a serious mistake that will have lasting consequences for America's economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region," McCain said in a statement.
"It will send a troubling signal of American disengagement in the Asia-Pacific region at a time we can least afford it," McCain added.