Officials released details of a sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal on Thursday, setting the stage for a debate in Congress - and around the world - on whether or not the pact promotes US exports and jobs.
The United States reached an agreement on October 5 on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 other Asia-Pacific countries. New Zealand, a member of the TPP, released the complete text on its foreign ministry website on Thursday. The move makes public the details of an agreement that critics complained had been forged in secrecy.
But what has added to the controversy in the US is the opposing views of many of the leading US political figures.
The Associated Press said President Barack Obama must give the public time to review the text before he signs the agreement and turns it over to Congress for approval. Politicians on Capitol Hill must simply vote yes or no. Congress is likely to take up the issue next year in the heat of the presidential election campaign.
Yet Mr Obama faces fierce resistance to the deal from within his own Democratic Party. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has said she’s against it. Her opposition may make it harder for Obama to round up votes.
The White House says the deal eliminates more than 18,000 taxes that countries impose on US exports. US officials say the agreement includes strong labour protections, ensuring, for instance, that workers in TPP countries have the right to form unions.
But critics say the agreement will end up forcing American workers to compete with workers in low-wage countries such as Vietnam.
They also complain that the agreement goes beyond traditional trade issues such as tariffs and import quotas and includes giveaways to powerful business lobbies.
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