Froman optimistic about support for massive Asia-Pacific deal

Froman optimistic about support for massive Asia-Pacific deal
© Greg Nash

U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanUS will investigate aluminum imports as national security hazard Overnight Finance: WH floats Mexican import tax | Exporters move to back GOP tax proposal | Dems rip Trump adviser's Goldman Sachs payout Froman heads to Council on Foreign Relations MORE said Sunday that despite Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House would like to see Biden ‘in the boxing ring’ in 2020 House Judiciary chair subpoenas DOJ for FBI documents The suit to make Electoral College more ‘fair’ could make it worse MORE’s opposition to a far-reaching Pacific trade agreement, he expects a positive outcome for the long-awaited deal.

Froman said he wouldn't comment on presidential politics but added that once congressional lawmakers and the American public examine the details of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the benefits of the deal will be clear. He cited better market access for U.S. firms, enforceable labor and environmental standards, and the elimination of thousands of tariffs that will boost U.S. exports.

“So I'm convinced as the people sit down and take the time to go through it in detail, that they'll come to a positive judgment,” he said on CNN’s "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week in an interview with PBS "NewsHour" host Judy Woodruff that, from what she's learned about it, she is not in favor of the TPP.

Zakaria pointed out that the Democratic front-runner has publicly supported the TPP 45 times and backed the agreement while part of the Obama administration.

“I think the key thing is to focus on having the deal on the table, having people have a chance to read it, to get into the details, so that they can make a judgment about it,” Froman said.

“We're convinced it's a very high standard deal,” he said.

Froman pushed back against arguments from presidential candidates including Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCongress to require FEC report on foreign money in elections DCCC adds first black candidates to list of top candidates Hillary Clinton’s sorry apology is why she’s no champion for women MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Both parties need to do more on drug prices Senate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries MORE, who say the TPP will ship U.S. jobs overseas.

“The Asia-Pacific region will have 3 billion middle-class consumers in the next 15 years, and for us to be successful, for us to keep businesses here, to manufacture, to grow things here and ship them abroad, we need access to those markets,” he said.

“That's how we're going to grow good paying jobs here in the United States.”

President Obama has a thin margin of support in Congress and will need to work over the next several months to convince wary lawmakers, especially congressional Democrats, that the TPP is a deal worth supporting even in an election year.

Froman said the deal is aimed at knocking down trade barriers in the Asia-Pacific region, home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, and not intended to contain China.

The TPP is a “key part of the rebalancing towards Asia strategy” and it is not directed against any country, including China, he said.

“It's one of the most concrete manifestations of that policy,” he said.

“And it underscores that the United States is a Pacific power, that we’re going to be involved in the region, and that our partners in the region very much want us to be embedded with them, economically and strategically.”

Instead, he said, “TPP is directed at establishing high standards for the region, rules of the road that reflect our interests and our values.”

“And it's meant to encourage other countries to raise their game as well."

There are a handful of other countries, including South Korea, that have expressed interest in eventually joining the deal.

Froman also countered arguments that the TPP talks between the United States and 11 other nations were mostly done in secret, a chief complaint of Democrats and labor unions opposed to the agreement. 

It is "not all secret," he said.

He said that the TPP, which was completed in Atlanta last Monday, is an international negotiation, "and you've got to have some ability to negotiate discreetly with other parties to get to the best possible outcome."

"We've put out a lot of information about it along the way, and we're looking forward to getting the text released as soon as possible," Froman said.

"We hope to get it out within the next 30 days."