Ahead of talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scheduled for this week, President Trump told a group of governors and lawmakers in a meeting on Thursday, April 12th that the United States was looking to rejoin the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”). President Trump withdrew from the TPP in January, 2017, just days after his inauguration, calling the agreement a “disaster.”

On Friday April 13th, however, President Trump repeated his previous stipulation that the United States would “only join {the TPP} if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to {President} Obama.” He explained that, “{the United States} already {has} BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations” in the TPP, and we “are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!”

On Friday officials from Japan, New Zealand, and Australia reacted to President Trump’s remarks, stating that while they support the U.S. rejoining the agreement, intense negotiations and American concessions would be required. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, stated that while “Japan would like to listen to the U.S.’s view”, the current agreement is a “well-balanced pact” that judiciously addresses the needs of the current 11 member nations. Secretary Suga noted that that it would be “difficult to bring part of the pact and renegotiate it.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden did not reject the idea of the U.S. rejoining the TPP, but also expressed concerns regarding the process of re-negotiation. She indicated that “{i}f the United States genuinely wished to reenter, that would trigger another process of engagement and negotiation. It’s not simply a matter of slotting into an existing deal.”

Australia’s Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo, echoed that sentiment, remarking that adding the U.S. to the TPP would “be a step in the right direction” but that “we’ve got a deal . . . I can’t see that all being thrown open to appease the United States.”

The final version of the TPP was signed on March 8, 2018 and its 11 member countries are currently in the process of ratifying the agreement.