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Obama Says China Could Want in on TPP

China has voiced its concern that the in-progress Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement between the United States and 11 other nations, which, once passed, would create the world’s largest free trade zone, could threaten its economy, but President Obama said Wednesday the nation might be interested in joining in on TPP.

“They’ve already started putting out feelers about the possibilities of them participating at some point,” the president said in an interview on American Public Media’s Marketplace radio show.

The contentious TPP trade deal has some promising it will promote U.S. jobs and others staunchly opposing it for fear it will instead send U.S. jobs abroad.

TPP just made headway late last month when the Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority bill, which will allow the president to propose trade agreements to Congress for a straight up or down vote but no amendments.

Now the administration is asking the U.S. House to approve fast-track authority to enable the president to advance his trade agenda.

Whether or not China joins the TPP, the Asian powerhouse will still have to follow the rules of trade for the global economy.

“The fact is that if we have 11 of the leading economies in the Asia-Pacific region, who have agreed to enforceable labor standards, enforceable environmental standards, strong I.P. protections, non-discrimination against foreign firms that are operating access to those markets, reduced tariffs, then China is going to have to at least take those international norms into account,” Obama said in the interview.

Steve Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), said, “Although it won’t happen for some time, China joining the TPP is a natural evolution of the Trans-Pacific agreement, and will force China to play by the terms of the agreement set by the current parties.”