US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order formally withdrawing the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, following through on a promise from his presidential campaign.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Trump said as he signed the executive order in an Oval Office ceremony on Monday, calling the move a “great thing for the American worker”.
In the same ceremony, Trump also signed an order imposing a federal hiring freeze, with the exception of the military.
Additionally, Trump signed a directive banning US non-govenmental organisations that perform abortions abroad from receiving federal funding.
The TPP accord was negotiated by former President Barack Obama’s administration but never approved by US Congress.
Signed by 12 countries in 2015, the agreement had yet to go into effect and the US’ withdrawal is likely to sound its death knell.
It had been the main economic pillar of the Obama administration’s “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region to counter China.
Its signatories are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Brunei. They together represent 40 percent of the world economy.
Trump, who took office on January 20, called it a “potential disaster” during his campaign. His opposition to the deal, as well as his campaign demands for US allies to pay more for their security, has raised concern in Japan and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
Trump concerns in Asia-Pacific
On Monday, Trump also met a dozen manufacturers in the US at the White House, pledging to slash regulations and cut corporate taxes, but warning them he would take action on trade deals he felt were unfair.
The new president has promised to bring manufacturing plants back to the US, an issue he said helped him win the November 8 election.
He has not hesitated to call out by name companies that he thinks should bring outsourced production back home.
The Republican leader is looking to shift attention firmly back to his policy agenda after a first few days that put his incoming administration on the back foot.
“Busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security,” he tweeted early on Monday.
Since he was sworn in on Friday, Trump’s White House has been pilloried for lying to the public about inaugural crowds and over a campaign-style speech by the president before a memorial to fallen CIA officers.
On Saturday, several million Americans poured onto the streets for women-led demonstrations against Trump, the scale of which were unseen in a generation, in a potent rebuke to the president.