Obama pitches TPP to business leaders

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President Obama on Tuesday pitched a sweeping trans-Pacific trade agreement to a 19 business leaders, kicking off an intensive months-long campaign to sell the agreement to Congress and the public.  

Obama told the group that after five years of talks, U.S. trade negotiators had achieved the best possible Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement for workers and businesses and he is confident Congress will approve the pact.

{mosads}He called Monday’s completion of TPP an “important step forward” and acknowledged during a briefing at the Agriculture Department that “there’s going to be a long, healthy process of discussion and consultation and debate before this ever comes to an actual vote.”

“We are going to be talking not just to members of Congress, but the American public and various constituencies, and governors, and mayors who are represented here about why this is good for their communities,” Obama said.

Business groups, including the U.S. Travel Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, have expressed support for the trade agreement but said they will fully evaluate whether it meets their standards. 

There was a similar tone on Capitol Hill, with some pro-trade lawmakers rescinding their support over the emerging details of a final deal. 

“I suspect that there will be some misinformation that is propagated around this, as there usually is in these debates,” Obama said.

But he expressed confidence “that the case to be made for why this is good for America is sufficiently strong” even as he faces razor-thin margins for votes in the House and Senate. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that there were “a number of troubling parts” of the TPP but that senators were still in the process of reading the agreement to determine their stance on the deal. 

Still, Obama expects that the deal covering 40 percent of global growth will “ultimately” get done and make sure the world economy is following rules that boost the U.S. economy its workers and their wages. 

The president — who was joined at the meeting by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council — said the White House will publicly post the agreement and provide plenty of time to review the final deal.

The TPP deal between the United States and 11 other nations — which was announced Monday after five days of around-the-clock talks in Atlanta — is expected to head to Capitol Hill for a vote early next year, just as the 2016 primaries are heating up.

Getting the deal through Congress would represent at major economic policy victory for Obama, who has said passage of the deal is key to the U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific. 

The president touted that the agreement eliminates about 18,000 tariffs that are placed on U.S. products, including a 38 percent tax on beef in Japan. 

He said the lowered barriers will compel U.S. firms to grow their businesses here instead of shipping jobs overseas, where it has been cheaper to produce and ship products.

“If the tariffs are down, if the taxes are down on goods made in America, that means U.S. companies that are investing here are able to sell over there without a disadvantage,” he said.

“We’re going to be able to sell more products, more services, American agriculture, American manufacturing — we’re going to be able to get those to markets, and American companies that produce here in the United States are not going to be disadvantaged relative to these markets.”

Tags Michael Froman Mitch McConnell President Obama Tom Vilsack Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

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