Trump, Turnbull seek common ground on trade, China

"By keeping this important trade pact (TPP) on foot, we've created a live option which would otherwise not exist for a negotiated US return in the future," said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a speech in Washington, DC.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday, where the two leaders held talks.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday, where the two leaders held talks.

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held talks on Friday at the White House, where the two leaders sought to put aside previous tensions, but divisions on trade remained.

Mr Trump pulled the United States out of the original 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership - which was backed by Mr Turnbull - soon after taking office last year, and he repeated his opposition to the deal at a joint press conference on Friday.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership was not a good deal for us," Mr Trump said, stressing that he would rejoin a deal that was better for the US, but that he prefers bilateral deals over pacts involving many countries. He has argued that the trade deal would hurt US workers.

Australia and the other remaining members of the pact published an amended version of the agreement last week and are expected to sign the new deal next month.

China's rising global power was also on the agenda for the White House talks with Mr Turnbull. Mr Trump has been a harsh critic of China's trade policies, while Australia has typically taken a less confrontational approach with China, its largest trading partner.

"There are people that want to try to paint the United States and its allies like Australia as being against China in some sort of rerun of the Cold War," Mr Turnbull told reporters. "But... that is not accurate."

Mr Trump said that US ties with Beijing have improved, but warned that the relationship could be derailed over trade disputes.

Mr Turnbull's visit followed tense interactions between the two leaders last year, when they clashed over a refugee swop deal. Mr Trump gave Mr Turnbull an effusive welcome on Friday, trying to put that episode in the rear mirror.

"The relationship we have with Australia is a terrific relationship and probably stronger now than ever before," Mr Trump said.

Mr Turnbull said he and Mr Trump had agreed on new initiatives to deepen security and economic ties.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 25, 2018, with the headline 'Trump, Turnbull seek common ground on trade, China'. Print Edition | Subscribe