The future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may look bleak, but that won’t stop President Barack Obama, who continues to push forward in the face of strong opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
During his joint press conference with Singaporean President Lee Hsien Loong Tuesday, Obama indicated he will attempt to move ahead with TPP despite numerous political challenges.
While there are few things Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump agree on, both are adamantly opposed to TPP. Addressing the criticisms from the candidates, Obama said, “They’re coming from sincere concern about the position of workers and wages in this country. But, I think I’ve got a better argument.” He continued, “We are part of a global economy. We’re not reversing that. It can’t be reversed.”
Obama stated, “Right now. I’m the president, and I’m for it.”
Obama acknowledged that opponents of TPP do have a number of legitimate concerns, but he pointed out that “trying to pull up a drawbridge on trade would only hurt us and our workers.”
At the arrival ceremony, Lee supported Obama’s position, saying that Singapore hopes “that Congress will ratify the TPP soon.” He added, “Not only will the TPP benefit American workers and businesses, it will send a clear signal, and a vital signal, that America will continue to lead in the Asia Pacific.”
Regardless of the outcome, the future of TPP will have a dramatic impact on American credibility in the Asia Pacific. Failure to ratify the deal could American credibility and, as a top U.S. trade official said last week, hand China “the keys to the castle.” Nonetheless, the odds that Obama will be able to successfully get the deal passed are decidedly slim. Several key congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle remain hesitant or unwilling to ratify the deal.
Obama hopes that once the election is over and the dust settles, officials will seriously consider the deal, rather than kick it around as a “political football.”
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