Hillary Clinton opposes controversial Pacific trade deal

Washngton, Oct 8 (IANS) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said she does not support the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, reached on Monday after marathon talks between the US and 11 Pacific Rim nations.

“As of today, I’m not in favour of what I have learned about it,” Clinton said in an interview with the PBS NewsHour, noting that she doesn’t believe the deal will meet her “high bar” for creating good American jobs, raising wages and advancing national security.

According to Xinhua, Clinton said she was “worried” about currency manipulation not being part of the trade deal and that “pharmaceutical companies may have gotten more benefits and patients and consumers fewer.”

Clinton’s objection came as the Obama administration stepped up efforts to sell the trade deal to Congress and the public. As a trade agreement, the TPP has to be passed by simple majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate.

While US officials have touted the trade deal with Pacific Rim countries as a means to create jobs and write the rules of international trade, labor unions, environmental groups, consumer and heath care organizations across the country have come out against it out of various concerns.

“We are disappointed that our negotiators rushed to conclude the TPP in Atlanta, given all the concerns that have been raised by American stakeholders and members of Congress,” powerful union AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. “We will evaluate the details carefully and work to defeat this corporate trade deal if it does not measure up.”

Some influential and pro-trade Republicans were also skeptical about the trade agreement.

“While the details are still emerging, unfortunately I am afraid this deal appears to fall woefully short,” said Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade.

The TPP deal, which covers about 40 percent of global economic output and is believed to be the biggest trade agreement in the world in the past two decades, was announced Monday after about five days of round-the-clock TPP ministerial meeting in Atlanta.

As Obama has to notify Congress at least 90 days before he can sign the TPP agreement, it still has a long way to go before the deal reaches Congress for possible ratification.

The earliest date for a final TPP vote in Congress will be in February 2016, when presidential nomination contests kick off in early voting states including Iowa and New Hampshire, according to trade experts at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organisation in Washington D.C.

Several Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have begun attacking the TPP, raising concerns about potential job losses in the United States.

As the TPP could become one of the hot-button issues in the US presidential campaign, it will be very difficult for Congress to pass the trade deal next year, experts said.

The TPP deal involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

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