President Obama is promoting his newly agreed-upon trade deal between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations as the “best possible deal for American workers.”
The president’s push comes as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) faces opposition not only from Republicans but some in his party — including the two leading Democratic candidates for president, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Obama said the agreement will hold participating nations to heightened labor standards, allowing American firms to compete overseas on a level playing field.
“Right now, other countries cut their costs by setting lower standards to pay lower wages,” Obama said in his weekly address Saturday. “This trade agreement, TPP, will change that, holding partner countries to higher standards and raising wages across a region that makes up nearly 40 percent of the global economy.”
He added that TPP will strengthen child- and forced-labor laws abroad, and impose “the strongest environmental standards in history” on foreign industry.
The president said the agreement also cuts out tariffs on American goods that serve as barriers to trade.
“It eliminates more than 18,000 of these taxes on American goods and services,” Obama said. “And that way, we’re boosting America’s farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small business owners — make it easier for them to sell their products abroad.”
Clinton, who helped negotiate the deal during her tenure as secretary of State, came out against TPP this week And Sanders has long been opposed to the deal, calling is “disastrous.”
But Obama painted the deal's naysayers as reactionaries who are “accepting a status quo that everyone knows puts us at a disadvantage.”
The deal must be approved by majorities in both chambers of Congress before it goes into effect.