Date
25 March 2017
US President Barack Obama (R) and Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong arrive for a joint news conference at the White House in Washington on Tuesday. Photo: Bloomberg
US President Barack Obama (R) and Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong arrive for a joint news conference at the White House in Washington on Tuesday. Photo: Bloomberg

Obama, Singapore PM vow to push for TPP trade deal

US President Barack Obama and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pledged Tuesday to push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, saying the pact will promote commercial connectivity among member nations.

“Hopefully after the election is over and the dust settles, there will be more attention to the actual facts behind the deal. It won’t just be a political symbol or a political football,” Obama said at a joint news conference with Singapore’s Lee who is on a state visit to Washington.

He said he hopes the merits of the deal will help it sail through, Reuters reported.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton have both said they oppose the TPP in its current form.

The TPP, which counts Singapore and the United States among its signatories, along with countries such as Japan, Mexico and Vietnam, also faces a tough fight in Congress.

Many lawmakers are running for re-election in November and face a rising tide of anti-free-trade sentiment driven by manufacturing job losses.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has called prospects for a vote this year “bleak”, especially now that Clinton’s vice presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine also opposes the agreement.

Singapore’s Lee warned that Washington’s credibility is at risk if the TPP is not ratified.

Arguing that the deal will add “substance to America’s engagement in the Asia Pacific” region, he called on Obama to push Congress to act on the trade pact.

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

RA/RC

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