President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade on Monday as he started his first full week in office.
At the White House, Trump called it a “great thing for the American worker — what we just did.”
The new president, as past Republican chief executives have done, also signed an order reinstating a ban on providing government funds to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about the procedure.
In addition, Trump, honoring a campaign pledge, froze hiring for many government agencies as a way to reduce the cost of government and rein in its growth.
The trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, had been negotiated since 2009 during former President Barack Obama’s White House tenure, but the U.S. Congress never ratified it, with numerous lawmakers opposed to it or skeptical of the deal. It would have covered trade with Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile, Canada, Mexico and four other countries.
The TPP would have been the biggest regional trade deal in history, covering nearly 40 percent of the world’s economy and about a third of world trade. China didn’t take part in the talks, but appears ready to step into the vacuum and create its own deals with Southeast Asian countries that would have been part of the 12-nation agreement.
WATCH: ‘We’re Going to Have a Tremendous Amount of Business Coming Back’
In advocating for the deal, Obama said last year, “We can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy. We should write those rules.”
But Trump, who took office last Friday, assailed globalization of the world’s economy throughout his long run to the White House, saying U.S. multi-national trade deals cost American workers their jobs as their employers moved operations overseas in search of cheaper labor.
Trump has pushed for bilateral deals between the U.S. and individual countries that had agreed to the broader pact.
Even before announcing his run for the presidency a year and a half ago, Trump said, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an attack on America’s business. It does not stop Japan’s currency manipulation. This is a bad deal.”
The agreement would have cut more than 18,000 tariffs, including on all U.S. manufactured goods and almost all American farm products. The deal sought to end exploitative child labor and set acceptable work conditions on minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.
The new president said in a Twitter comment that his first week would be busy, “planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security.” He met Monday morning with top executives from U.S. manufacturers and later in the day has a White House meeting set with union leaders and a contingent of workers.
At the start of the meeting with the business leaders, Trump assured them of his intent to streamline government.
“The regulations are going to be cut massively and the taxes way down,” he said.
WATCH: President Trump on regulations
But he warned the business executives to not move their operations to other countries, saying they would face a hefty tariff if they manufacture products elsewhere and then attempt to bring them back across the border to sell in the U.S.
Among those meeting with him were the leaders of Dow Chemical, SpaceX, the Dell computing firm, the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.
The new president tasked the business leaders to come up with a list in the next 30 days of ways to boost U.S. manufacturing, an important sector of the world’s largest economy, but one that has lagged in the recovery since the country’s steep recession in 2008 and 2009.
Trump says he is not against trade deals, but wants more favorable terms for the United States that benefit its workers.
The American leader says he also wants to redraft the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.
At a swearing-in ceremony for top White House advisers Sunday, Trump said he will discuss NAFTA, immigration and border security as he meets January 31 with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The White House said he also plans to meet soon with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I think we’re going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, and for everyone involved,” Trump said Sunday.
Trump vowed during the campaign to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to thwart illegal immigration that he said would be paid for by Mexico. Pena Nieto has dismissed the idea that his government would provide the funding, calling it “ridiculous.”
Trump’s busy schedule Monday also includes a meeting with congressional leaders and one-on-one discussions with House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan as the new administration and Republicans in Congress embark on attempts to overturn many of Obama’s actions. It is the first time in more than a decade that Republicans have controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House.
On Friday, just hours after his inauguration, Trump signed an order setting in motion his intent to try to promptly repeal Obama’s signature health care reforms.
Before his meetings with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, Trump will host talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May Friday in the Oval Office. May has said she wants to focus on post-Brexit trade talks, NATO and fighting terrorism.
Trump’s first two days in office got off to a rocky start, with the president boasting falsely about the size of the crowd that attended his swearing-in. White House spokesman Sean Spicer later offered inflated claims about the crowd.
On Sunday, one of Trump’s aides, Kellyanne Conway, described Spicer’s assessment of the crowd size as “alternative facts.”