U.S. trade representative says no return to TPP deal and wants bilateral deals in Asia

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HANOI (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Sunday that the United States would not return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal after 11 remaining countries earlier agreed to look at how they could move ahead without it.

He said the United States favored bilateral over multilateral trade deals and he expected a series of agreements in the region, where he is attending a meeting of ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries.

“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,” Lighthizer told a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“The president made a decision, that I certainly agree with, that bilateral negotiations are better for the United States than multilateral negotiations.”

Asked why the United States was against using language opposing protectionism, he said it favored free trade, but would defend against unfair trade.

Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore