UPS CEO sees 'slight chance' of Congress approving TPP deal this year

BOSTON (Reuters) - The head of United Parcel Service Inc UPS.N said on Thursday he believes there is a "slight chance" the U.S. Congress will approve a sweeping pan-Pacific trade deal this year, but only after the November presidential election.

A United Parcel Service (UPS) truck on delivery is pictured in downtown Los Angeles, California October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

President Barack Obama wants lawmakers to approve the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership before he leaves office, though the two leading candidates running to succeed him have voiced criticism of the pact.

“There are enough members of Congress that in the past have supported this that we think it is still a slight possibility this year,” said David Abney, chief executive of the world’s largest package-delivery company.

“It would have to be in the lame-duck session, there is no doubt about that. And I am not at all predicting that this is going to happen, I’m saying we think there is a slight chance.”

An analysis by the U.S. International Trade Commission, released on Wednesday, showed that the deal would have a slightly beneficial effect for the nation’s economy, boosting gross domestic product by $42.7 billion, or 0.15 percentage point, in 2032.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has railed against the two-decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement and vowed to kill the TPP deal if elected.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, has said she wants to renegotiate the accord to include stronger rules on currency manipulation.

But Abney wouldn’t rule out TPP being approved under the next president.

“Obviously, if you base it on how they have been campaigning ... you would say there is next to no chance that they would address it,” he told the Boston College Chief Executives’ Club. “But all of us, when we step into a new job, we sometimes find out that reality is a little different than what we thought.”

He declined to say whether he preferred Trump’s or Clinton’s stances on trade, saying only, “both of them feel differently than I do.”

The company has benefited handsomely from the growth in cross-border trade, with about one-fifth of its $58.36 billion in 2015 revenue coming from its international package business.

Abney also cautioned against calls to renegotiate the TPP, telling reporters, “I don’t know that in reality that that’s as doable as some people may think it is.”

Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Alan Crosby