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VWs in Wolfsburg, Germany. Photo: Alexander Koerner / Getty

A deal on automobiles could help change Trump's mind on a key Obama policy for confronting China: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal with 11 Pacific nations, according to trade experts surveyed by Axios.

What's going on now: Trump is at Mar-a-Lago with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, a cornerstone signatory of TPP, who is struggling politically at home and would love to pull the U.S. back into the deal.

Trump called the TPP a "disaster" during the campaign and withdrew from it on his third day in office, but last week said he might sign the pact anyway, as long as it was much improved. (Though last night, he went back to his original posture, tweeting that he doesn't "like the deal for the United States.")

U.S. trade experts are not convinced that Trump's latest reversal on TPP is necessarily the last word.

  • "He's back-tracked before. My guess is he'll go back and forth some more," said William Reinsch of the Center for Security and International Studies, who served in the Clinton administration as undersecretary of commerce for exports.
  • Edward Alden of the Council on Foreign Relations tells Axios that Trump could warm to TPP if it required a higher percentage of components from TPP nations, and specifically not from China.
  • Jeff Schott, of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said another improvement from a U.S. standpoint would be if TPP comes to include the U.K., South Korea and Taiwan, all of whom have said they want to join. "It's a better deal if it expands," Schott tells Axios.
  • Claude Barfield of the American Enterprise Institute said that since Trump is also fixated on trade deficits, some language might be added to that point. But ultimately, "it's hard to know" what Trump wants in a new TPP because of his erratic positions.

Go deeper

36 mins ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

14 hours ago - Economy & Business

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.