Date
11 December 2017
US President Barack Obama is flanked by Boeing chairman Jim McNerney (left) and Xerox chairman Ursula Burns during a meeting of the President's Export Council at the White House on Thursday. Photo: AFP
US President Barack Obama is flanked by Boeing chairman Jim McNerney (left) and Xerox chairman Ursula Burns during a meeting of the President's Export Council at the White House on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Obama: Pacific trade pact chances a lot better than 50-50

US President Barack Obama believes the chances of forging a free-trade deal with Asia-Pacific countries are now much  better than 50-50.

Speaking at a meeting of the President’s Export Council on Thursday, Obama also said his administration has a “strong case” for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal covering nearly 40 percent of the global economy, Reuters reported.

“I’m much more optimistic about us being able to close out an agreement with our TPP partners than I was last year,” the president was quoted as saying.

“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,” he added.

A senior Chilean official said last week the talks should be finalized in the first quarter of 2015.

Countries had hoped to wind the deal up last year, but the United States and Japan have reached an impasse over market access for US farm exports, the news agency said.

Obama hopes Congress will approve fast-track authority, which limits lawmakers to a yes-or-no vote on trade deals in exchange for setting negotiating objectives.

Some lawmakers in Obama’s own Democratic party oppose fast-track, worried about the impact of the proposed  trade deal on American jobs. Some Republicans also fear the arrangement would delegate too much power to the White House.

“The dynamics really don’t change in terms of the number of votes in the House and the Senate that are there to be gotten for a good trade deal but we have to make the case and I think we can make a very strong case,” Obama said.

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