US trade rep says no return to TPP deal and wants bilateral deals in Asia

By Reuters/Mai Nguyen   May 21, 2017 | 04:05 pm GMT+7
US trade rep says no return to TPP deal and wants bilateral deals in Asia
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer listens while attending a joint press conference held on the sideline of the APEC Ministers Responsible For Trade (APEC MRT 23) meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 21, 2017. Photo by Reuters

'The U.S. pulled out of the TPP and it's not going to change that decision. That does not mean we will not engage in this region.'

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday that the United States would not return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal after 11 remaining countries earlier agreed to look at how they could move ahead without it.

He said the U.S. favored bilateral over multilateral trade deals and he expected a series of agreements in the region, where he is attending a meeting of ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries.

"The United States pulled out of the TPP and it's not going to change that decision. That does not mean we will not engage in this region," Lighthizer told a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam.

"The president made a decision, that I certainly agree with, that bilateral negotiations are better for the United States than multilateral negotiations."

Asked why the United States was against using language opposing protectionism, he said it favored free trade, but would defend against unfair trade.