President Obama on Monday said Congress needs to pass a sweeping Pacific Rim trade agreement to ensure the United States takes the reins of global trade in the region instead of China.
The Obama administration is working closely with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to build support for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), arguing that delaying votes on the deal will make it harder to pass the agreement, the president said in a Washington Post op-ed.
"The United States, not countries like China, should write them. Let’s seize this opportunity, pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make sure America isn’t holding the bag, but holding the pen."
He argued that the deal will grow the U.S. economy and strengthen national security.
"But none of this will happen if the TPP doesn’t become a reality," Obama said.
"That’s because the Asia-Pacific region will continue its economic integration, with or without the United States," he said.
"We can lead that process, or we can sit on the sidelines and watch prosperity pass us by."
Congressional leaders have said that the deal won't likely be considered until the lame-duck session after the November elections.
"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," Obama said.
"But building walls to isolate ourselves from the global economy would only isolate us from the incredible opportunities it provides," he said.
"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."
The issue has been widely debated by both Democratic presidential candidates Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Putin’s KGB super PAC April Ryan: 'I was in shock' Is America's military effort in the Middle East constitutional? MORE and Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Morning Joe' co-host: We got into Trump's head Petition calls for Melania Trump to move to White House or pay NY security costs In California race, social justice wing of Democrats finally comes of age MORE as well as Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Finance: Senate Dems call for investigation of acting SEC chairman | Wyden: Russia probe should focus on Trump financial ties | Dems seek more money for IRS Budowsky: Putin’s KGB super PAC Trump touts affordable childcare plans MORE. All three have given Obama's trade policy scathing reviews.
Obama said that “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 is moving forward on the trade front with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which Beijing and 15 other nations are aiming to complete by the end of the year.
U.S. trade officials have said that if forged, the agreement would set standards well below that of the TPP.
"As we speak, China is negotiating a trade deal that would carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses and goods at risk," Obama said.