White House ‘Optimistic’ on Pacific Trade Deal
Los Angeles, CA – The White House is optimistic on the chances that negotiators can forge a strong, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that would impact 11 countries and encompass nearly 40 percent of the world economy.
“I’m much more optimistic about us being able to close out an agreement with our TPP partners than I was last year,” said President Barack Obama at a recent meeting of the President’s Export Council.
Confident that the administration could make a “strong case” in Congress for a TPP, Obama added, “It doesn’t mean it’s a done deal, but I think the odds of us being able to get a strong agreement are significantly higher than 50-50.”
According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the White House has held more than 1,500 meetings with members of Congress on TPP, including sharing negotiating text, and would continue to consult closely.
U.S. Representative Sander Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade, has said there was still a long list of “major issues” impacting the final make-up of the proposed trade pact.
Levin is calling for Congress to have more input into the deal, asserting that workers’ rights, access to medicines in developing countries and the phase-out period for U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars top the list of of major issues still to be resolved.
With the ongoing talks wrapping-up this week in Washington, D.C., negotiators may meet again next month in either the U.S. or Australia.
The 11 countries included in the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the U.S.