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Obama calls TPP the best chance for America

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The politics were tough when President Obama wrapped up negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations last fall, and they have only gotten worse since. The two presidential frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both oppose the deal, as do Sen. Bernie Sanders and many other Democrats in Congress. Obama promoted the TPP in a Washington Post op-ed published late Monday, clearly aware of the anti-trade flavor of the presidential race.

The Asia-Pacific region “is on its way to becoming the most populous and lucrative market on the planet,” Obama wrote. “Increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China.” China knows that, which is why it is furiously trying to negotiate a competing trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, by the end of the year, Obama said, saying China’s pact would “carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses, and goods at risk.”

TPP, on the other hand, “puts American workers first and makes sure we write the rules of the road for trade in the 21st century,” Obama argued, listing some benefits, from eliminating tariffs for U.S.-made goods to strengthening America’s national security. Then he returned to the 2016 campaign:

I understand the skepticism people have about trade agreements, particularly in communities where the effects of automation and globalization have hit workers and families the hardest. But building walls to isolate ourselves from the global economy would only isolate us from the incredible opportunities it provides. Instead, America should write the rules. America should call the shots. Other countries should play by the rules that America and our partners set, and not the other way around. [Obama,The Washington Post]

He ended acknowledging that another clock is ticking. “My administration is working closely with leaders in Congress to secure bipartisan approval for our trade agreement, mindful that the longer we wait, the harder it will be to pass the TPP,” he wrote, concluding: “Let’s seize this opportunity, pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make sure America isn’t holding the bag, but holding the pen.”

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