President Barack Obama speaks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, in Windsor Mill, Maryland on Feb. 3, 2016.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images
By Maya Rhodan
February 4, 2016

President Obama released a statement Wednesday evening championing the major Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership shortly after the trade deal was signed in New Zealand by officials from the 12 member nations.

Officials from the U.S. and other involved countries have been negotiating the deal, which seeks to reduce trade barriers among the signatories, for five years. President Obama says the agreement “sets new, high standards for trade and investment in one of the world’s fastest growing and most important regions” but left-leaning groups like labor unions and environmentalists are wary of its potential impact on American workers. Both Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton oppose the deal. When Clinton was a part of the Obama administration she said TPP “sets the gold standard in trade agreements” but came out in opposition to the deal during her presidential campaign.

“Right now, the rules of global trade too often undermine our values and put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage,” Obama said in a statement. “TPP will change that. It eliminates more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on Made in America products.”

Obama also argued the deal would mean stronger labor standards, a more free Internet, and commitments to protecting the environment. “TPP allows America – and not countries like China – to write the rules of the road in the 21st century, which is especially important in a region as dynamic as the Asia-Pacific,” Obama said.

Though the deal was signed on Thursday—New Zealand is 18 hours ahead of Washington—the deal will still have to be ratified by the U.S. Congress.

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