Froman: Congress can pass the Pacific Rim trade deal

Froman: Congress can pass the Pacific Rim trade deal
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The nation's top trade official on Tuesday expressed optimism that Congress can pass a sweeping Pacific Rim trade pact this year. 

U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision Democrats give Trump trade chief high marks US trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report MORE said that if House and Senate Republican leaders decide to consider the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal after the November elections then the votes will be there for the agreement.

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"If they bring it forward, I think we can get the votes there," Froman said on CNBC’s ”Squawk Box." 

Froman said he is "seeing a lot of support for this agreement" on Capitol Hill as lawmakers begin to fully understand the wide-ranging deal's benefits.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Trump fans the flames of white grievance Ex-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Election security to take back seat at Mueller hearing McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE (R-Ky.) have each said that they don't think the TPP has enough support to come up for consideration during  the lame-duck session.

But the Obama administration is still working to resolve several issues with congressional Republicans, including a way forward on intellectual property protections for high-tech medicines called biologics, that they hope will generate more support for the TPP deal. 

While Froman acknowledged that there there are legitimate concerns about expanded trade, he argued that the United States can't stand on the sidelines.

"The rest of the world isn’t just standing by" as the United States decides whether to take up the TPP this year, Froman said.

"They're going to move ahead and get access to these markets at our expense," he said. "Our market share is actually going to decline in some of these fast-growing, large markets."

Without the TPP, Froman warned that China, which isn't part of the TPP, will take the reins and write the rules of the global economy.

"It is awfully important that we show leadership and that we’re on the field," he said. 

The TPP has ridden a rocky road since the text was released a year ago. And that path has only gotten bumpier with both presidential candidates — Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE and Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report A question for Robert Mueller MORE — opposing the agreement or any efforts to pass the deal during the lame-duck session after the November elections.

Business, agriculture and manufacturing groups largely back the agreement with most Democrats and labor unions and environmental groups stand firmly in opposition. 

"Trade agreements … [are] how we shape the global economy and make sure that we have level playing field to compete," Froman said.