Business groups form powerhouse coalition to lobby for Pacific pact

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Five of the nation’s most powerful business groups said Thursday they are teaming up to rally support behind an expansive Pacific Rim trade agreement, reflecting the enormity of the fight ahead.

On top of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the U.S. Coalition for TPP has beefed up its ranks with the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the battle to convince Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

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In a joint statement, the groups said they have joined forces “for the next phase" of the coalition’s efforts, which is "pushing for the expeditious passage of the TPP."

"We are intensifying our broad education and advocacy efforts on the Hill and around the country as the administration and Congressional leaders work to address the next steps that are required to secure passage of the TPP," they said. 

The TPP, which was signed by the United States and 11 other nations on Feb. 3, faces a bruising path to congressional passage this year. 

A majority in President Obama's own party oppose the sweeping agreement over concerns that U.S. workers will lose jobs and face lower wages.

Other potential supporters, including many of the coalition's members, have said they support the deal but are concerned about several of its provision, including on pharmaceuticals and tobacco. They have called on the Obama administration to address those problems to help smooth passage. 

On Tuesday, the Farm Bureau released a report showing that the TPP would provide a $4.4 billion boost to the nation's farm community.

Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackThomas J. VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE said that level of growth would create 30,000 jobs.

“The TPP is a strong agreement that will eliminate barriers to U.S. exports and set in place standards that will improve American competitiveness in a region where the United States has lost market share," the groups said.

"Industries and companies, large and small, across America know that standing on the sidelines hurts the U.S. economy and American farmers, manufacturers, services providers and workers,” they said. 

"It is critical that America move forward as soon as possible to open markets and level the playing field with our TPP partners."