Obama: ‘I Remain Confident’ Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Will Pass

Sunday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” President Barack Obama weighed in on the the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal saying he remained “confident” it will pass.

Partial transcript as follows:

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to sit down for an exclusive interview with President Barack Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Later in the week, Obama left Washington for a trip that ended up in Asia and China. Let’s start with the topic I just gave you my take on, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the South China Sea, Turkey, and of course Donald Trump later in the interview.


ZAKARIA: President Obama, thank you so much for joining us.


ZAKARIA: One of the centerpieces of your foreign policy has been the so-called pivot to Asia…

OBAMA: Right.

ZAKARIA: — the idea of moving toward that part of the world where all the dynamism, economically certainly, exists.

One of the architects of the pivot says that the sine qua non of the pivot is TPP, and it looks as though that pact is in trouble. Hillary Clinton is now against it. Donald Trump is against it. Paul Ryan is even against it.

OBAMA: Well, no, the — I don’t think that’s correct. But the, look, the politics of trade have always been complicated.

Let me back up and say that the idea of the rebalance was not to neglect other parts of the globe in favor of Asia, it was rather to recognize that, for a decade, we have not been paying attention to Asia at a time when it was undergoing this enormous transformation, that it was going to be the world’s most populous region, the most dynamic market. And that we had to make sure that we reminded ourselves as well as the region that we’re an Asia-Pacific power.

And the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a historic agreement cobbled together among a very diverse set of countries. And the basic argument is simple. This is going to be the world’s largest market. And if we’re not setting the rules out there, somebody else is.

And what we have been able to do is not just establish a trade agreement among these countries, because many of them we already have trading agreements with. What this does is it raises the standards for trade so that there is greater protection for labor rights, a greater protection for environmental rights, greater transparency, greater protection for intellectual property, which is so important to a knowledge-based economy like ours.

It removes 18,000 taxes, effectively, tariffs. Because we’re a relatively open market and many of our trading partners the have been closed, it gives us a huge lever to open up markets for American goods and services.

And so there’s no serious economist who hasn’t looked at this and said this is actually not only a smart trade deal, but it actually, makes up for some of the failures of previous deals to have fully enforceable labor or environmental components.

But what is true is that there have been, in the past, always, a vocal, you know, set of interests that are opposed to trade inside my party, the Democratic Party. And what’s been new is some populist anti-trade sentiment inside the Republican Party. Having said all that, it was said that we couldn’t get the authority to even get a trade deal done and we got it done. And I remain confident that we can get TPP passed.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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