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White House vows to press for trade powers

Published on Jan 31, 2014 1:58 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House on Thursday put a brave face on a rebuke by the top Senate Democrat on trade policy, which will complicate its attempts to negotiate huge commerce pacts with Asia and Europe.

President Barack Obama's plans to conclude the deals, a centerpiece of his economic and foreign policy, absorbed a blow when Senator Harry Reid came out against granting the White House trade promotion authority.

Without "fast track" powers, which mean deals agreed by the president will not be amended in Congress, Washington will find it harder to conclude pacts with key trading partners.

Reid's move, part of delicate mid-term election year politics which are squeezing the pro-trade block in Congress, is a blow to Obama's hopes of reaching a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 12 nations and a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe.

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