President Donald Trump reportedly asked top administration officials on Thursday to look into rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, only to make it sound like the prospect was unlikely hours later.
He made the request to Larry Kudlow, his new National Economic Council director, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, after meeting with Republican lawmakers and governors from agricultural states, The New York Times reported. They said they were worried about farmers being negatively affected by the added tariffs that the Trump administration has threatened to place on several countries in the pact, including China, Japan, Canada and Mexico.
Shortly before midnight on Thursday, however, Trump tweeted that he would only rejoin the TPP if he could negotiate a “substantially better” deal than the pre-existing one.
Would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama. We already have BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP, and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!
Kudlow said he was taken aback by the abruptness of the request.
“This whole trade thing has exploded,” Kudlow told The New York Times on Thursday. “There’s no deadline. We’ll pull a team together, but we haven’t even done — I mean, it just happened a couple hours ago.”
Members of the trade pact, meanwhile, showed little enthusiasm for the possible shift in stance.
RELATED: A history of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
A history of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
A history of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
US President Barack Obama smiles during a meeting with leaders from the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the US embassy in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump holds up an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership after signing it in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017.
Trump signed the decree Monday, effectively ending US participation in a sweeping trans-Pacific free trade agreement negotiated under former president Barack Obama. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) waves as he joins Trans-Pacific Partnership leaders before their meeting in Manila, Philippines, November 18, 2015. Pictured are: Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (L-R), Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chile President Michelle Bachelet, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Malaysia Prime MInister Najib Razak, U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Peru President Ollanta Humala, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
People pass an advertisement protesting the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Washington, DC on July 23, 2015. Expectations that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an accord that would encompass 40 percent of global trade, would be sealed this year increased after US President Barack Obama was last month given fast-track authority by Congress to negotiate such deals. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: Demonstrators protest against the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement outside the Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill June 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Senate passed an important proceedural vote on the trade bill, which would grant President Barack Obama enhanced negotiating powers to complete a major Pacific trade accord, clearing the way for final passage as early as Wednesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest against the legislation to give US President Barack Obama fast-track authority to advance trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during a protest march on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 21, 2015. The US Senate advanced the legislation on Thursday to give Obama fast-track authority to forge a huge Asia-Pacific trade accord, setting up a final vote in the chamber for later this week. The measure would allow the Obama administration to conclude negotiations with 11 other Pacific Rim nations and bring a trade accord to Congress for an up or down vote, with lawmakers not permitted to make changes. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, District of Columbia, U.S., on Monday, April 27, 2015. Prime Minister Abe is in the Nation's Capital to discuss a range of economic, security, and global issues, including progress on the Trans Pacific Partnership, Japan's expanding role in the Alliance, and climate change. (Photo by Pete Marovich/WHITE HOUSE POOL (ISP POOL IMAGES)/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
Representatives of members of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal: Brunei's Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs Erywan Dato Pehin, Chile's Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz, Australia's Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, Canada's International Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne, Singapur's Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, New Zealand's Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker, Malaysia's Minister for Trade and Industry Datuk J. Jayasiri, Japan's Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi, Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Peru's Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism Eduardo Ferreyros Kuppers and Vietnam's Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh, pose for an official picture after the signing agreement ceremony in Santiago, Chile March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Japan's Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi (R) and Vietnam's Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh shake hands after they attended a news conference on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting during APEC 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kham TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Farmers shout slogans at a rally against Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in Tokyo November 10, 2010. Thousands of Japanese farmers rallied on Wednesday to demand their government steer clear of a U.S.-led free trade initiative which would open the heavily protected agricultural sector to fierce competition. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS AGRICULTURE CIVIL UNREST POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A woman from the Muong ethnic tribe works on her green tea hills which produce black tea for export in Tan Son, outside Hanoi, October 4, 2015. A dozen Pacific nations closed in on a sweeping free trade pact on Sunday in Atlanta after a breakthrough over how long a monopoly pharmaceutical companies should be given on new biotech drugs. The trade pact, the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, would lower tariffs and set common standards for 12 economies led by the United States and Japan, which together account for 40 percent of global output. REUTERS/Kham TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 25: Delegates hold up signs that read 'Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)' on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) (R) speaks as Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) (L) listens during a news conference January 11, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. House Democrats held a news conference 'to stand against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Former U.S. Secretaries of State meet with President Barack Obama to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the White House in Washington, November 13, 2015. From left are Colin Powell, James Baker, Obama, Henry Kissenger and Madeleine Albright. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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“We’ve got a deal” already, Steven Ciobo, Australia’s trade minister, said Friday. “I can’t see that all being thrown open to appease the United States.” Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, also warned of the difficulties associated with renegotiating.