If President Donald Trump truly wants to raise the stakes with China amid what some warn is an escalating trade war, he should rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to Ed Mills, a Raymond James Washington policy analyst.
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On Thursday, the president reportedly told farm state lawmakers who are concerned about the potential effects of Chinese tariffs on American agricultural imports that he was weighing re-entering the controversial trade agreement, which involves 11 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan and Mexico.
Trump pulled out of the deal -- which he called a “rape of our nation” during the 2016 presidential campaign -- within days of assuming the presidency.
“TPP was always about getting the rest of the world together enforcing new rules on China, to gang up on China,” Mills told FOX Business’ Liz Claman on Thursday. “China was never part of TPP. There was a conflation that went on where it was said this is a trade deal with China. It was never the case.”
Although the White House insists the U.S. is not in a full-blown trade war with China, Beijing imposed tariffs on 106 American imports, including soybeans, corn, wheat and a number of fruits in response to Washington's plans to place tariffs worth at least $50 billion on Chinese goods.
And while President Xi Jinping hinted that he may be willing to concede of some of Trump’s demands, U.S. farmers remain on edge over worries of potential tariffs on American agricultural imports.
“What we’ve heard so far from China is a reiteration of things they keep on saying,” Mills said. “And when you’re getting into these details, there’s a hard way of knowing if they’ll fall through. And that’s why I think the president here is incentivized to hit back harder.”