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President Obama Says China Trade Deal Can’t Thwart TPP

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Fresh off of his 11th trip to Asia, President Obama seemed confident Friday that the Trans-Pacific Partnership should and could get passed.

Ahead of a meeting with business and government leaders on both sides of the political aisle Friday to strategize a way forward for TPP, the president said no trade deal China does could do better for the country than this pending deal.

“Right now, China is pushing hard to create their own trading regime out in Asia. And I promise you that China is not going to be setting up a bunch of rules that are going to be to the advantage of American companies and American businesses,” Obama said.

In the last year, there’s been talk of China—which isn’t presently part of the 12-nation trade agreement—potentially joining the TPP bloc, but also of a deal many have called TPP’s rival.

China started ramping up talks in November about its own Asia-Pacific trade pact, the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) deal, weeks after the TPP was agreed on and days following the release of the agreement’s text.

The trade agreement would include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) 21 member countries—all of the 12 TPP nations plus China, Russia, the Philippines, and six others.

APEC executive director Alan Bollard said at the time that the FTAAP could render TPP unnecessary in the long run.

But as Obama said, “If we are not in there and making sure that fair trade is established in the Asia market, we’re going to be cut out.”

Turning to the politics that have heated up the debate on trade in recent months, the president said while politics have painted trade as a negative, manufacturers depending on selling American exports would call it necessary.

Either way, the goal is to get the TPP settled and the president said he has the right people in place who understand that the deal needs to get done and that he’s not “letting up on” it.

“I don’t have any more elections to run, and the reason that I’m pushing this so hard is because I know, and other countries know and China know that if we get this done, advantage America,” Obama said. “And if we don’t, then we’re going to be disadvantaged for a long time to come.”

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