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President Trump signs memo to leave TPP trade pact

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Monday to leave the proposed Pacific Rim trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The move is basically a formality, since the agreement had yet to receive required Senate ratification. Trade experts say that approval was unlikely to happen given voters’ anxiety about trade deals and the potential for job losses.

Trump called the move “a great thing for the American workers.”

It remained unclear if Trump would seek individual deals with the 11 other nations in TPP — a group that represents roughly 13.5 percent of the global economy, according to World Bank figures.

Trump has blamed past trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization for a decline in U.S. factory jobs.

In another executive action, Trump reinstated a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option.

The regulation has been something of a political football, instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984.

Most recently, President Barack Obama ended the ban in 2009.

Trump signed it one day after the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States, the date which is traditionally when presidents take action on the policy.

The policy also prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.

And in a third action, Trump signed a memorandum that freezes hiring for some federal government workers as a way to reduce payrolls and rein in the size of the federal workforce.

Trump’s directive is fulfilling one of his campaign promises. He told reporters that members of the military will be exempted from the hiring freeze.

The new president has vowed to take on the federal bureaucracy and the action could be the first step in an attempt to curtail government employment.

The memorandum signed by Trump is similar to one that President George W. Bush signed at the start of his administration in 2001.

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