Clinton: I won’t support trade deal without changes


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday said she isn’t likely to change her stance on a Pacific Rim trade agreement without sweeping changes to the deal.

The former secretary of State once touted the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as the “gold standard” of trade pacts, but changed her mind after the 12-nation deal was completed after more than five years of negotiations.

{mosads}“There are changes that I believe would make a real difference if they could be achieved,” she said during MSNBC’s Democratic debate.

“I do not currently support it as it is written,” she said.

Clinton said she had hoped “the TPP negotiated by this administration would put to rest a lot of the concerns many people have expressed about trade agreements, and I said that I was holding out that hope that it would be the kind of trade agreement that I was looking for.

“I waited until after it had actually been negotiated because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the administration, once I saw what the outcome was I opposed it,” Clinton said.

The former New York senator defined herself as a pro-trade Democrat, arguing that she has been very clear about the importance of trade for the United States.

“But we have failed to provide the basic safety net and support that American workers need in order to be able to compete and win in the global economy,” she said.

The United States and 11 other nations signed the TPP on Wednesday in New Zealand, kicking off what could amount to a year of discussions to push the deal through Congress.

Supporters of the agreement, from business groups to congressional Republicans, are calling on the Obama administration to address their concerns if they want to see the trade deal move across Capitol Hill. 

Clinton’s rival for the White House, Bernie Sanders, has been vehemently opposed to the TPP and all other trade deals that have come before Congress.

Sanders said he has never supported a trade deal — an area he said he and the secretary “have disagreements” — during his tenure in Congress, a statement that earned applause from the crowd gathered at the University of New Hampshire.

The Vermont senator vowed to stop the TPP if he is elected president. 

But he also argued that he believes in trade, just not “unfettered free trade.”

“I believe in fair trade, which works for the middle class and working families of this country and not just large multinational corporations,” he said.

Sanders said that he not only opposed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was completed during former President Clinton’s tenure in the White House, but was “on the picket line” against the agreement — another line that drew applause from the Sanders-friendly audience.

He said he never believed NAFTA would create jobs and doesn’t think the TPP can follow through on that promise, either.

“So, do I believe in trade? Of course I believe in trade, but the current trade agreements over the last 30 years were written by corporate America for corporate America resulting in the loss of millions of decent paying jobs,” he said. 

“Workers today are working longer hours for lower wages — trade is one of the reasons for that,” Sanders said to more applause. 

Tags Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton North American Free Trade Agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership
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