President Barack Obama said Tuesday he personally worked the phones to build support in the closing negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
“At the very end you always have a few things that you’ve just got to get over the hump,” Obama said. “So yes, I made calls to prime ministers, I made calls to presidents, I made calls to U.S. businesses, I made calls to a lot of stakeholders, environmental groups, to explain to them why it is so important for us to make sure that we’ve got a high-standard set of rules governing trade and commerce in this region.”
The president touted the deal as raising environmental, labor and transparency standards among the other 11 nations that are part of the pact, a list that includes Australia and Japan but not China. Obama warned that if the United States doesn’t take the lead in setting the rules of trade in the Pacific, then China would.
He said the deal, if adopted, would strengthen the hand of reformers in China who are trying to transform the Chinese economy into one that is more consumer-focused and less under state control.
“If they see that all their neighbors are operating a high level, then I am confident that they will adapt to the rules that we’ve set up, as opposed to us adapting or being locked out of these markets,” Obama said.
Congress gets a vote on the deal, known as the TPP. Under streamlined negotiating rules approved by a thin majority this summer, Congress will take an up-or-down vote, with no amendments or filibuster attempts.