White House Signals Trans-Pacific Partnership Remains a Top Priority

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
White House Signals Trans-Pacific Partnership Remains a Top Priority

Despite mounting opposition in Congress and in the country, on December 16, President Obama made it clear that he intends to continue pushing for prompt passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

On that day, the president hosted an Oval Office gathering of high-level trade officials, inviting press photographers to chronicle the meeting. The confab took place just days after the latest round of negotiations on the Pacific Rim trade pact wrapped up in Singapore.

“This remains a top priority of the president because of the positive economic benefits that come from it,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

“Congress and the American public have high expectations for the TPP. The administration is determined to get the best deal possible, and we are pleased with the progress made towards achieving an ambitious, comprehensive, high-standard agreement,” he said at a White House press briefing on Tuesday, December 17.

Apparently, the president and his corporate underwriters have high hopes that the 12-nation (at present) trade deal will be signed soon after the New Year, after they were forced to abandon hopes that a completed draft would be waiting under the White House Christmas tree.

In terms of a real deadline, it is unlikely that the agreement would be hammered out before the president takes a scheduled trip to Asia in April. This visit to would-be TPP partners would provide the president the opportunity for a personal appeal to his colleagues to speed up the TPP approval process.

As it stands today, the TPP is being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

There is news, however, that South Korea will soon sign on to the sovereignty transfer posing as a trade pact.

In fact, although President Obama has stated that one of the chief purposes of the TPP is to “pivot” Asia away from China, in an interview with Chinese state-run media, he indicated that he would be open to entertaining an application from China to join the group.

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Photo of President Barack Obama meeting with USTR Michael Froman Dec. 16: AP Images

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