By William Mauldin and Carol E. Lee

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump Monday formally pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation trade agreement that was negotiated by Barack Obama and became a lightning rod for criticism in the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump's move was the fulfillment of a campaign promise to end U.S. participation in the proposed TPP deal, which was aimed at eliminating most tariffs and other trade barriers among the U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Vietnam and half a dozen other countries around the Pacific. China is excluded from the deal.

The memorandum announcing Mr. Trump's decision was largely symbolic, because congressional leaders and the Obama administration had signaled in November that no near-term vote would be held on the TPP.

Still, Mr. Trump's decision to bury Mr. Obama's agreement in his first week shows he is serious about shifting U.S. trade policy and jettisoning decades of mostly steady trade liberalization in favor of more confrontation with China and other trading partners, with the potential for big tariffs if those countries don't come to the table ready to make concessions.

"We've been talking about this for a long time," Mr. Trump said as he signed the memorandum.

Mr. Obama had hoped the TPP and its commercial rules of the road would put pressure on Beijing to curb the advantages given to its state-owned enterprises, respect intellectual property more and even lower tariffs beyond levels agreed upon when China entered the World Trade Organization 15 years ago.

But Mr. Trump and his advisers have eschewed multilateral trade blocs and preferred other methods, including the threat of tariffs, to clinch bilateral deals.

Write to William Mauldin at william.mauldin@wsj.com and Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 23, 2017 12:18 ET (17:18 GMT)

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