Trump looking to re-enter TPP, says Sens. Pat Roberts, Ben Sasse

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Senator Ben Sasse told reporters of Trump's remarks on the TPP after the session. The agreement is meant to establish freer trade in the Asia-Pacific region and put pressure on China to open its markets to compete with and perhaps eventually join the bloc.

The news comes as the risk of an escalating trade war with China has panicked American farmers and ranchers, who send many of their products overseas.

The president has mused publicly about rejoining the deal before, suggesting he would re-enter if he could negotiate more favorable terms.

China had been very clever in its proposed tariff increases, putting pressure on USA states that support Donald Trump, he said.

Some said joining the trade pact could strengthen the United States position in the current trade spat with China, which is not a party to the agreement.

One of the White House officials said that while the president prefers negotiating bilateral trade deals, a multilateral deal with the TPP countries would counter Chinese competition and would be faster than negotiating one-on-one with each of the 11 other nations.

Mr. Trump's reconsideration of an agreement he once denounced as a "rape of our country" caught even his closest advisers by surprise and came as his administration faces stiff pushback from Republican lawmakers, farmers and other businesses concerned that the president's threat of tariffs and other trade barriers will hurt them economically.

The move, which would signal a significant policy change for Trump, was meant to assuage numerous president's critics who stand to be hurt by the trade dispute with China, including many farm states that supported his election. Sen Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was among a handful of senators who recently visited China to meet with government and business leaders there.

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"Last year, the President kept his promise to end the TPP deal. because it was unfair to American workers and farmers", Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

"I have to believe President Xi is smiling all the way to regional domination as a result of our pulling out of TPP. We need to be deeply engaged there, and I'm confident this administration will do that".

Roberts said Kudlow and Lighthizer would be working with the Agriculture Committee, calling the move "certainly good news". Trump's rejection of the deal has rattled allies and raised questions at home about whether protectionism will impede US economic growth.

Former New Zealand trade negotiator Charles Finney said the United States would be the one having to make compromises in any new TPP negotiations.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says Trump wants "to see if we couldn't take another look at TPP". Exports would increase, but imports would increase more. Farm state lawmakers have pushed for greater sales of the higher ethanol blend to boost demand for the corn-based fuel. Gasoline typically contains 10 percent ethanol. Farm state lawmakers fear that would reduce demand for the biofuels and violate the RFS law.

Trump said his conversation with Xi "made a big impact".

An array of business executives are expressing alarm to federal lawmakers Thursday about the impact that tariffs will have on their business. Still, there were some supporters, too.