US President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked Congress to give the White House a freer hand to close trade deals, saying the United States and not China must write trade rules for Asia, Reuters reported.
Obama, who is pushing for so-called fast-track authority from Congress on trade deals, warned that if China prevailed, American workers and businesses would be at a disadvantage, according to the news agency.
“That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair,” he said in his State of the Union address. He noted past deals had not always “lived up to the hype”.
China is not part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership the US is negotiating with 11 other trading partners, which aims to set common standards on issues such as workers’ rights and the environment as well as lower trade barriers.
The Asian giant is instead pushing for faster progress towards a trade pact with the wider Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc.
Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said fast-track, which gives Congress a yes-or-no vote on trade agreements in exchange for setting negotiating objectives, would make trading partners take the US more seriously.
“I think it’s important to note that there are countries all over the world, China included, that would like to take away America’s mantle of economic leadership,” Reuters quoted Timmons as saying.
– Contact us at [email protected]