Obama promotes TPP, says it is 'more than just a trade pact' (Updated)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a long term investment in security and universal human rights especially in combatting corruption and making progressive governments.

United States President Barack Obama, in his strong bid to promote the TPP to Asean member countries, said it is more than just a trade pact as it will build cooperation among nations.

“I want to be very clear – trade is not a panacea. It's not a cure-all for the range of challenges our nations face.

“But we know from experience that when trade is done right it can help fuel progress in other areas,” he said in his speech at the Asean Business in Investment Summit 2015 here today.

Obama said TPP has the strongest anti-corruption and transparency standards of any trade agreement in history.

“It requires countries to have laws against corruption – including making it a crime to bribe a public official – and it requires countries to enforce those laws.

“So TPP encourages rule of law and stronger, more effective and more accountable governance. That is progress,” he said.

Obama said TPP is the first free trade agreement that levels playing field between private companies and state-owned firms.

Calling it the “highest standard” trade agreement in history, he claimed that TPP is the right way a trade should be done.

“Advancing human rights and universal values are embedded in the TPP. The past trade pact did little in this area and that's why we negotiated so hard for so long to get a trade pact that upholds our values.

“And we succeeded. TPP contains the highest trade standards ever negotiated,” Obama said.

Stating among others the benefits of TPP to member countries, he said it can combat corruption, make progressive governments, combat forced labour and bring good environmental standards.

With Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam joining in with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile, Obama said TPP implementation will bring in stronger rules for trade across the Asia Pacific.

“I know that the politics around trade can be hard in all of our countries. Past agreements haven't always lived up to their promises,” he said.

Acknowledging that the debates on TPP in many countries and skepticism on previously failed trade deals, Obama admitted that TPP deal is a “tough sell”.

“TPP is a win for the United States. I am not going to be shy about this. As US President, I make no apologies for fighting to open markets to American companies and workers. And we have had success.

“US exports have reached record highs, and we know that companies that export tend to grow faster, hire more employees and pay their workers more than companies that do not export,” he said.

Obama said TPP is a win for the kind of trade that companies and workers in member countries need to compete in the 21st century.