US trade representative says United States won't return to Trans-Pacific Partnership

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reaffirmed on Sunday that the United States will not return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Attending a meeting of ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries in Vietnam, Lighthizer said that the U.S. favors bilateral over multicultural trade deals, Reuters reported.

There are now 11 remaining countries involved with the TPP trade deal.

Lighthizer, who agreed with President Trump’s decision to leave the agreement, added that leaving TPP does not necessarily mean the U.S. won’t still be involved.

"The United States pulled out of the TPP and it's not going to change that decision. That does not mean we will not engage in this region," Lightizer said.

The remaining countries held their highest level talks on Sunday and announced that they look forward to continuing the trade deal without U.S. involvement, the news agency reported.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay told reporters that the reaming countries were “going to put forward proposals on how to take TPP forward in November.”

On January 23, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from any involvement in the TPP trade deal.