WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Monday signed three orders on withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, freezing the hiring of federal workers and hitting foreign NGOs that help with abortion.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Trump said as he signed the executive order to withdraw from the TPP in the Oval Office.
“Great thing for the American worker what we just did.”
The agreement, seen as a counter to China’s rising economic influence, was promoted by Washington and aimed to set trade rules for the 21st century. Although signed in 2015, it has not yet gone into effect.
It was signed by 12 countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and the United States — that together represent 40 percent of the world economy.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a big supporter of the accord, has said that TPP without the United States would not make sense.
The real estate mogul’s White House bid was fuelled in part by a pledge to overturn trade deals — such as TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement — that he says have drained US jobs and destroyed its industrial heartlands.
Trump also signed two other orders, on freezing the hiring of federal workers and hitting foreign NGOs that help with abortion.
The restrictions imposed prohibit foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive US family planning assistance from using non-US funding to provide abortion services, information, counseling or referrals and from engaging in advocacy to promote abortion.
They were first put in place in 1984 by Republican president Ronald Reagan.
Later eliminated by Democratic president Bill Clinton, they were reinstalled by his Republican successor George W. Bush, and annulled again after Barack Obama took office.
Galvanized by Trump’s November 8 election, abortion opponents in states where Republicans hold power moved swiftly last month to adopt draconian anti-abortion measures that in some cases pose challenges to constitutional liberties.
The new president, meanwhile, has pledged to nominate an anti-abortion justice to the Supreme Court, which could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade, the emblematic ruling that legalized abortion in the United States in 1973.
‘Massive’ tax cuts?
On Monday, Trump was hosting separate meetings with business leaders, unions and members of both houses of Congress.
He will also meet the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.
Tax reform is likely to be high on the agenda.
“What we’re doing is we are going to be cutting taxes massively for both the middle class and for companies, and that’s massively,” he said.
“A bigger thing, and that surprised me, is the fact that we’re going to be cutting regulation massively.”
Reform of Obama’s health care laws is also likely to be on the menu.
Trump has publicly promised that none of the tens of millions of Americans who obtained health insurance under Obama will lose it.
That makes any meaningful changes difficult to pay for.
But the more urgent task for Trump may be to keep always skeptical establishment Republicans on board the “Trump train.”