Attention has turned to report that US President Donald Trump ordered White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to examine the benefits of re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. That sounded to be another 180 degree turn in Trump’s position as withdrawing TPP was among the first things he did after taking office.

However, Trump himself tweeted today that “Would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama. We already have BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP, and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!”

Japan Finance minister Taro Aso also said that Trump “is a person who could change temperamentally, so he may say something different the next day”. Aso also emphasized that “after the U.S. withdrawal, Japan, recognizing the significance of free trade, has led the initiative in pulling together the TPP 11.” Aso would welcome US rejoining “if it’s true” and hailed that “our efforts have borne fruit if the United States judged it would be better to rejoin.”

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