DAVOS: US President Donald Trump opened the door on Friday to the US rejoining the TPP, the cross-pacific trade deal he rejected last year just days into his presidency.
The real estate tycoon used a speech during his visit to World Economic Forum in Davos to make his suggestion, only days after the 11 countries also in the deal agreed to move ahead with the blockbuster accord, minus the US, reports AFP.
The signal, although vague, was well received by the free-market loving audience, which included the who's who of the world's economic and political elite.
Dumping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was one of Trump's first decisions after entering the White House, under the belief the accord would punish US workers by allowing companies to hire cheaper labour abroad.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was initially a US-led project that if finalised, would have accounted for 40 percent of global GDP, while deliberately excluding Washington's regional rival China.
Trump's predecessor Barack Obama believed the deal would set a higher standard for trade, including on health and the environment, and eventually entice China to play by the same rules.
In his speech to the packed audience in Davos, Trump said the US would consider negotiating trade deals with its onetime TPP partners "either individually, or perhaps as a group."
But only "if it is in the interests of all", he added. Audience members warmed to the comments, hoping that it may mark a small but significant pivot from Trump's "America First" protectionist mantra.
Asked whether Trump's change on the TPP, which he first indicated to CNBC in Davos, would be followed up with real proposals, a senior US official said: "There will be follow-through."
Trump "sent a very important signal about TPP...That's a big deal for the region," Singapore's former diplomat to the UN Kishore Mahbubani told AFP after the speech.