Date
10 December 2016
President Barack Obama is campaigning for House allies friendly to his signature TPP trade agenda. He is also trying to win over critics of the deal. Photo: Reuters
President Barack Obama is campaigning for House allies friendly to his signature TPP trade agenda. He is also trying to win over critics of the deal. Photo: Reuters

Obama launches long-shot pitch for TPP deal

President Barack Obama is making a long-shot bid to bring a 12-nation Pacific trade agreement to a vote in Congress immediately after the Nov. 8 US election.

The push includes campaign support for congressional allies and targeted bids to convert naysayers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

It is a huge bet that a majority of House and Senate lawmakers might brush aside the opposition of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to the trade deal and embrace it.

The stakes are high. A defeat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would deprive Obama of a major legislative accomplishment in the last weeks of his presidency and could harm US ties with other countries in the bloc.

The administration and GOP congressional leaders may choose not to seek a vote during the post-election lame duck period if it remains well shy of drawing majority support.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can to maximize the chance of getting it done,” said Mike Froman, the US trade representative, in an interview.

Froman visited Nashville, Tenn., on Friday to talk up the TPP’s intellectual-property provision with the record industry and to trumpet its proposed lower tariffs abroad with US whiskey distillers.

Froman, one of half a dozen top officials participating in TPP events last week, has spoken with nearly 100 House Republicans in the past few months and cabinet-level officials have participated in more than 60 TPP events this year.

Trade experts following the TPP fight say the agreement probably lacks sufficient votes to pass the House.

Still, they say the odds of the deal being approved are not zero.

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