WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is open to the United States negotiating an entrance into a Trans-Pacific Partnership, said Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska after meeting with President Trump April 12. The move potentially could open export markets, including those for agricultural goods.

“The best thing the United States can do to push back against Chinese cheating now is to lead the other 11 Pacific nations that believe in free trade and the rule of law,” Sen. Sasse said. “It is good news that today the President directed Larry Kudlow and Ambassador (Robert) Lighthizer to negotiate US entry into TPP.”

Kudlow is an economic advisor for President Trump while Robert Lighthizer is the US Trade Representative. Talk of the United States possibly entering the TPP came while trade tensions were high between the United States and China. The Office of the US Trade Representative on April 2 proposed a list of products imported from China that may be subject to additional tariffs (mostly 25 percent increases). China responded by issuing a list of 106 products imported from the United States, including pork and beef shipments, that will be subject to increased tariffs.

The United States originally was involved in forming the TPP, but it was not one of the 11 countries that signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in March. They included Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Besides trade relations, the agreement also sets rules on intellectual property, labor and the environment. It aims to diminish the increasing economic dominance of China in that part of the world.

The possibility of joining the TPP pleased executives of the US Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers.

“Putting it simply, joining TPP is the best way to avoid a potentially devastating loss of wheat sales to Japan,” said Michael Miller, chairman of US Wheat Associates and a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Washington. “If the United States joins TPP, US wheat should be able to compete on a level playing field with Canadian and Australian wheat, which will soon have a major advantage once TPP is implemented. That would keep US wheat sales that currently represent 50 percent of Japan’s total wheat imports competitive in this crucial market.”

Jimmie Musick, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers and a wheat grower from Sentinel, Oklahoma, added, “It is very encouraging that the President is taking this step. If we can find a way to join this trade agreement, it will go a long way toward helping protect the incomes of every American wheat farmer. We also want to thank the members of Congress who pushed very hard to see this opening.”