WASHINGTON • US President Barack Obama took a dig at China yesterday as he defended the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Pacific Rim free trade deal, which excludes Beijing.
In his weekly address to the nation, Mr Obama said the 12-country accord, concluded this week, features the strongest labour and environmental standards in history, which he said will level the field in international trade. Once approved by all the signatories, the TPP could be the largest regional trade pact ever.
"Without this agreement, competitors that don't share our values, like China, will write the rules of the global economy," Mr Obama said.
"They'll keep selling into our markets and try to lure companies over there. Meanwhile, they're going to keep their markets closed to us."
Spanning about two-fifths of the global economy, the TPP aims to set the rules for 21st century trade and marks one of Mr Obama's key diplomatic and economic achievements.
He hopes it will encourage investment and press China to shape its behaviour in commerce to TPP standards.
But the deal has faced opposition from activists, who argue it favours big business over consumers and governments.
Under the deal, 98 per cent of tariffs will be eliminated on everything from food to manufactured products. Countries involved are the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.