Donald Trump on Monday announced the United States would signal its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal on his first day in the White House, as one of six immediate steps aimed at "putting America first."
The Republican billionaire — who for 10 days has been sounding out cabinet picks at his Trump Tower offices in New York — made the pledge in a short video message.
The 70-year-old property tycoon outlined a list of priorities for his first 100 days and executive actions to be taken "on day one" — on half a dozen issues from trade to immigration, national security and ethics — in a push to "reform Washington and rebuild our middle class."
"My agenda will be based on a simple core principle: putting America first," said the president-elect, whose victorious campaign tapped the anger of working-class Americans who feel left behind by globalization, singling out trade deals such as the TPP as key culprits.
"On trade, I am going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country," said Trump, who takes office January 20.
"Instead, we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores," he said.
Both the 12-nation TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement featured heavily in the brutal White House race — accused of harming the US economy and jobs — and many see Trump's victory as a repudiation of ever-deeper commercial ties.
Trump's populist election platform called for scuttling the TPP — President Barack Obama's signature trade initiative which still needs approval from the Republican-dominated Congress — as well as for renegotiating NAFTA.
Asian leaders have been scrambling to save the TPP, and US Trade Representative Michael Froman warned last week that scrapping it would have "serious" strategic and economic costs.
Trump's pledge to pull out of the deal was one of six points on which he promised immediate executive action — which he can take without Congressional approval — all of which broadly echoed his campaign positions.
Sticking to his theme of protecting US jobs, Trump said he would direct the Department of Labor to investigate abuses of visa programs "that undercut the American worker."
On energy, the president-elect has pledged to boost the oil and gas sector and bring back coal, reversing Obama's efforts to encourage renewables.
In the video message he promised to "cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy — including shale energy and clean coal — creating many millions of high-paying jobs."
Regarding national security, Trump said he would ask the Department of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to "develop a comprehensive plan to protect America's vital infrastructure from cyber-attacks, and all other form of attacks."
On cutting government red tape — another central pledge — he promised "a rule which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated."
And on the subject of ethics — the Republican has vowed to "drain the swamp" in Washington, although his own transition team includes several lobbyists — he promised "a five-year ban on executive officials becoming lobbyists after they leave the administration."
There was no mention in the message of some of Trump's biggest campaign promises — notably his pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border, deport millions of immigrants, restrict Muslim immigration, or repeal the Obamacare healthcare law.