Obama confident trade deal will pass Congress

Obama confident trade deal will pass Congress
© Getty Images

President Obama said Monday he’s confident that Congress will overcome election-year gridlock and approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Obama acknowledged during a news conference in Vietnam that passing trade deals is tough, especially during a political campaign when the issue is hotly debated.

“Having said that, I remain confident we're going to get it done,” he told reporters. “It's good for the country. It's good for America. It's good for the region. It's good for the world.”

Obama is looking to reassure Asian nations that the deal is still on track for passage despite growing political opposition to it in the U.S.

The trade deal, which was finalized last fall, is the biggest piece of the administration's emerging relationship with Vietnam, a Cold War-era foe. Persuading Congress to ratify the 12-nation trade deal is near the top of Obama’s final-year agenda.

But the TPP has drawn opposition from members in both parties in Congress along with the leading Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Ex-FBI official: 'Links and coordination' with Russia happen everyday Ex-FBI agent: Americans should be 'disgusted' by Russian interference in Mueller report MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE.

Critics of the deal say it could lead to American firms shipping jobs overseas to countries with lower wages, including Vietnam. They also have said the labor and environmental protections in the deal are not strong enough.

Despite the dwindling time left on this year’s congressional calendar and reluctance from House and Senate leaders to hold a vote on the package, Obama insisted the Pacific Rim trade pact has a strong chance of passage.

“The politics of it will be noisy,” he said, adding that was true for past trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea.

“But we got them done. And I'm confident that we'll get them done this time, as well, although there will be ups and downs and bumps along the way.”

Obama said the deal would allow the U.S. to deal with trade issues in a fair way and open growing markets in Asia and South America to U.S. goods. He also defended the worker and environmental protections in the deal.

“I have not yet seen a credible argument that once we get TPP in place we're going to be worse off. We are demonstrably better off,” he said. “American workers and American businesses are better off if we get this deal passed.”

Obama spent the first of three days in Vietnam meeting with the nation’s leaders and finalizing a series of business deals worth around $16 billion, an announcement meant to bolster trade ties.

Vietnamese airline VietJet has agreed to purchase 100 Boeing aircraft and Pratt & Whitney engines. General Electric also brokered a wind energy agreement with the Vietnamese government.

"Deals like these are a win for both of our countries — helping to fuel Vietnam’s economic growth and supporting tens of thousands of American jobs," Obama said.