U.S. firms urge Washington not to rush through landmark trade deal

NUSA DUA, Indonesia Mon Oct 7, 2013 2:36am EDT

Penny Pritzker testifies before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on her nomination to be Commerce secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington May 23, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Penny Pritzker testifies before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on her nomination to be Commerce secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington May 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - U.S. multinationals have warned Washington not to compromise and weaken a landmark 12-nation Asia-Pacific free trade pact in order to complete the deal by the end of this year.

After three years of talks, President Barack Obama's administration is making a last push to finalize the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would establish a free-trade bloc stretching from Vietnam to Chile.

The ambitious agreement would encompass 800 million people, about a third of world trade and nearly 40 percent of the global economy.

Obama had hoped to personally iron out the deal with other leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia this week, but was forced to cancel at the last minute because of the U.S. government shutdown.

"(Obama) set a very aggressive goal to try and get the TPP agreements done by the end of the year," U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker told reporters on Sunday on the sidelines of the APEC meeting.

Major multinationals, such as Wal-Mart and FedEx, have, however, expressed concern that the tight deadline could make U.S. negotiators vulnerable to compromise.

"For Wal-Mart, we would like to see a high-quality agreement, which is that no sectors and no products are excluded. That there are no compromises that leak into the process for the purpose of speed," Scott Price, chief executive of the U.S. retailer in Asia, told Reuters.

"If it takes more time in order to have a high quality agreement, that's what we should have."

U.S. government officials have indicated the agreement might not eliminate all tariffs among the 12 countries, consisting of the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

The United States is under pressure in the talks to scrap import curbs on politically sensitive products such as sugar, dairy items, footwear and clothing.

In exchange, its partners would adopt new rules on digital trade and the operations of state-owned enterprises, and bolster protections for workers and the environment.

"I don't think that President Obama not being here will delay things at all," said Alan Bollard, executive director of APEC. "(But) there is a risk that others could potentially use that as a bargaining excuse and everybody needs to be aware of that … this is a very complex negotiation."

Washington, which has touted the deal by saying that 5,000 U.S. jobs are created for every additional $1 billion of exports, could seek to exclude some of the 11 countries to ensure an agreement was reached on time.

"The president has not only pushed us internally, but also his counterparties in other countries, to say that we will move forward and maybe not everyone will be there at the time and you can go in the second round," Pritzker said.

(Additional reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Clarence Fernandez)

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Comments (6)
RabidReader wrote:
I didn’t we one thing in here the leads my to believe this is a good thing for the American people. For multinational corporations, maybe, but the citizens owl suffer yet again. 5000 jobs per billion $ in exports isn’t much to brag about & other countries only have to improve working conditions to gain a favorable edge to import more shoddy merchandise to the U.S. This isn’t a balanced agreement unless you’re Wal-Mart or other large retailers. And I do not want more food products to come into this country from Asia’s questionably safe producers.

Oct 06, 2013 9:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:
These trade pacts are the great selling out of the American people by the wealthy.

Walk into any store in America. Everything on the shelf says Made in China, or Made in Mexico, or Made in Indonesia. Only 20 years ago, almost every item in every American store was Made in the USA.

Thanks to the treasonous act of signing NAFTA, Bill Clinton greatly accelerated the destruction of the American middle class.

Now Obama continues to stab the American worker in the back to please the plutocracy of globalism.

A great leveling is taking place. The billions of impoverished Chinese, Indians, Mexicans and Nigerians will see their incomes rise. The middle class of America will see their wages drop sharply, year after year, until an American worker is making the same wage as an Indonesian, Philippine, or Nigerian worker.

This is the outcome planned and hoped for by the wealthy plutocracy that Obama seeks to please. This is the utter destruction of the American middle class, due to free trade and free immigration.

Where is the American military in all this? Why are they not protecting the American people from this invasion? It is far more destructive to the American people that ten nuclear bombs would be. Where is our military?

Oct 06, 2013 9:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Sinbad1 wrote:
Indonesia Malaysia and most of the Asian nations want no part of the TPP, it allows access to Asian markets by the US but still prevents Asian countries gaining access to the US market.

Oct 06, 2013 9:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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