Trump moves to withdraw US from Trans-Pacific trade agreement

Donald Trump signed an Executive Order withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump signed an Executive Order withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump has moved to pull the United States out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, fulfilling a campaign promise as he began his first full week in office.

As he signed a notice in the Oval Office, Mr Trump said: “Great thing for the American worker that we just did.”

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

The new US president also signed memorandums freezing most federal government hiring – though he noted an exception for the military – and reinstating a ban on providing federal money to international groups which perform abortions or provide information on the option.

The regulation, known as the “Mexico City Policy”, has been a political volleyball, instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984.

Following a tumultuous first weekend in office – consumed by Mr Trump’s criticism of the media’s inauguration coverage – the president sought to refocus on the sweeping, yet often vague, promises he made as a candidate.

He campaigned as a fierce opponent of multilateral trade agreements, particularly the 12-nation Pacific Rim deal agreed upon by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Earlier, Mr Trump spoke with business leaders and warned that he would impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that move their manufacturing out of the United States.

He also promised tax advantages to companies which produce goods domestically.

“All you have to do is stay,” he said during a meeting in the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

President Trump’s comments on trade and the economy came before his communications director, Sean Spicer, set out the administration’s position on other issues during a press conference.

Mr Spicer reiterated the president’s support for energy projects such as the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline and said Mr Trump would seek to defend territories that are in international waters, including those in the South China Sea.

He also said President Trump would visit the Pentagon to attend a ceremony for his newly confirmed defence secretary, retired General James Mattis. It is expected Mr Trump will hold discussions with Mr Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review the fight against Islamic State.

Stressing that the Trump administration’s intention was “never to lie”, Mr Spicer revealed plans to designate four “Skype seats” in the White House briefing room in a bid to open press conferences to alternative news outlets.