Barack Obama Jabs at China as he Defends TPP Trade Deal

Barack Obama Jabs at China as he Defends TPP Trade Deal

US President Barack Obama looks on after speaking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement at the Agriculture Department in Washington (AFP)

Washington: US President Barack Obama took a dig at China today as he defended the new TPP Pacific Rim free-trade deal, which excludes Beijing.

In his weekly address to the nation, Obama said the 12-country accord concluded this week after five years of negotiations features the strongest labor and environmental standards in history, which he said will level the field in international trade.

Once approved by all the signatories, the TPP could be the largest regional trade pact ever.

"Without this agreement, competitors that don't share our values, like China, will write the rules of the global economy," Obama said.

"They'll keep selling into our markets and try to lure companies over there, meanwhile they're going to keep their markets closed to us," the president added.

Spanning about two-fifths of the global economy, the TPP aims to set the rules for 21st century trade and marks one of Obama's key diplomatic and economic achievements.

He hopes it will encourage investment and press China to shape its behavior in commerce, investment and business regulation to TPP standards.

But the deal has faced opposition from activists, who argue it favors big business over consumers and governments, and US congressional leaders have already expressed reservations even before the details have been released.

Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state under Obama promoted the negotiations aimed at sealing the TPP and is now the Democratic frontrunner in the race for the 2016 presidential election, has come out against it.

Clinton said Wednesday that given what she knows about the deal it falls short of her "high bar" for creating American jobs, raising wages and advancing US national security.

Under the deal, 98 percent of tariffs will be eliminated on everything from beef, dairy products, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood through to manufactured products, resources and energy.

Countries involved are the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
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