Australian business lobbies for TPP in U.S.

By AAP News   June 23, 2016 | 02:14 am PT
Australian business figures are lobbying U.S. politicians to sign off on the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement despite fierce opposition from presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Australia is leading the delegation in Washington in an attempt to convince Congress to ratify the TPP this year.

After seven years of talks, the trade agreement was signed in February by 12 Pacific Rim countries including Australia, Japan, the U.S. and Singapore amid hopes it would drive economic growth by cutting tariffs and boosting trade.

But the trade deal, touted the largest in history covering 40 per cent of the world's economy, is not yet in force because it hasn't been ratified in each of the 12 countries.

Amcham chief executive Neils Marquardt says that the hope is for Congress to vote on the TPP during the so-called "lame duck" period of government between the November 8 presidential poll and the winner's January 20 inauguration.

"It's a very challenging environment in which to get this trade deal done with both presidential candidates running to various degrees against trade and trade in the public eye has become a bad thing," Mr Marquardt told AAP from Washington.

Mrs Clinton in a campaign speech on Tuesday called for the TPP to be rejected, saying it doesn't meet her high bar for raising wages or creating good-paying jobs.

Her Republican opponent has claimed that the TPP would lead to massive job losses in the U.S.

But President Barak Obama has made securing Congress support for the TPP a major priority for his last year in office, arguing it will lower the costs of U.S. exports, cut taxes and enhance intellectual property standards protecting data and idea.

Mr Marquardt and his group of eight Australian business representatives have held meetings with officials from Mrs Clinton's campaign team and will meet Mr Trump's team on Thursday.

The group, which forms part of 45 delegates in Washington lobbying for the TPP, is also meeting several members of Congress to reassure them that technical changes can be made to allay any concerns.

"The issue of America's strategic leadership in the Asia Pacific region is on the line here," Mr Marquardt said.

"A failure to pass the TPP would really let down the region that is looking to the U.S. for leadership."

Australia's parliament has also yet to ratify the TPP, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hailed it as a "gigantic foundation stone" for Australia's future prosperity.

The World Bank has warned of limited benefits for Australia and U.S., with the biggest beneficiaries expected to be Vietnam, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.

The Australian Greens have backed Mrs Clinton's calls for the TPP to be rejected, saying it won't benefit ordinary people and is a threat to wages and conditions.Related News:

Vietnam to ratify TPP trade deal by August 9

Vietnam to shake up supporting industries to seize TPP opportunities

TPP trade deal could trample Vietnam's livestock industry

Vietnam's textiles: Low productivity could eat up TPP benefits

go to top