Obama says Pacific trade pact will boost US economy

Obama said the TPP “means that America will write the rules of the road in the 21st century.”
Obama said the TPP “means that America will write the rules of the road in the 21st century.”PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama said on Thursday that a huge free-trade deal between 12 Pacific Rim countries will boost the US economy while protecting workers and the environment.

Obama said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the full text of which was released for the first time, "means that America will write the rules of the road in the 21st century."

The text will prove that the TPP is "a new type of trade deal that puts American workers first," he said in a statement.

"It's the highest standard trade agreement in history," he said.

"And if we don't pass this agreement - if America doesn't write those rules - then countries like China will. And that would only threaten American jobs and workers and undermine American leadership around the world."

The ambitious pact, agreed one month ago after marathon negotiations in Atlanta, Georgia, aims to break down trade and investment barriers between countries comprising about 40 per cent of the global economy.

It brings together the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico and seven other countries on the borders of the Pacific, but not China, the world's second-largest economy and one seen as less committed to lowering barriers on cross-border movement of goods and capital.

Obama, in a message to the American people but also Congress, which must ratify the pact as-is, with no changes, said the agreement will create a fairer environment for US businesses.

"When we have a level playing field, Americans out-compete anyone in the world," he said.

"I know that past trade agreements haven't always lived up to the hype. That's what makes this trade agreement so different, and so important."

Obama said the TPP does not only lower trade barriers but establishes rules for treatment of workers and environmental protection.

The pact includes "the strongest labour standards in history" and "the strongest environmental commitments in history."

"These standards are at the core of the agreement and are fully enforceable - which means we can bring trade sanctions against countries that don't step up their game."