US President Donald Trump has asked his trade advisers to look at re-joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade pact the US withdrew from last year.
The TPP is aimed at cutting trade barriers in some of the fastest-growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
It was thrown into limbo last year when Trump quashed America's involvement, citing concerns about US jobs.
But the TPP went ahead anyway with 11 countries including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam signing the deal in March.
"It is good news that today the President directed (National Economic Council director) Larry Kudlow and (US trade representative) Ambassador (Robert) Lighthizer to negotiate US entry into TPP," Ben Sasse, a pro-trade Republican senator, said in a statement after a meeting with Trump.
The countries that forged ahead with the TPP eventually cut chapters on investment, government procurement and intellectual property that were of concern to Washington.
The pact includes Mexico and Canada which are renegotiating with the United States the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump has frequently talked tough on trade.
His most recent push has been to order tariffs on steel and aluminium imports and he has threatened to impose duties on imports from China, triggering fears of a global trade war.