Obama stresses importance of trade in new national security strategy

February 7, 2015 1:37 pm 

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 — U.S. President Barack Obama stressed the strategic importance of trade in a new national security strategy unveiled Friday as the administration stepped up efforts to advance trade with Asia and Europe in recent weeks.

"Through our trade and investment policies, we will shape globalization so that it is working for American workers," Obama said in a document outlining his new national security priorities for his final years in office.

"We believe trade agreements have economic and strategic benefits for the United States. We will therefore work with the Congress to achieve bipartisan renewal of Trade Promotion Authority and to advance a trade agenda that brings jobs to our shores, increases standards of living, strengthens our partners and allies," said Obama, while making a strong case to lawmakers to back his trade agenda and cement his legacy in this regard.

The Obama administration is engaged in two ambitious and difficult trade negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the Trans- Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union, in a bid to write new rules of trade for the 21st century.

Through the TPP and the TTIP, "we are setting the world's highest standards for labor rights and environmental protection, while removing barriers to U.S. exports and putting the United States at the center of a free trade zone covering two-thirds of the global economy", Obama wrote in the new document.

While trade has emerged in recent weeks as one of the few areas where Obama and the leaders of the Republican-controlled Congress agree, a coalition of Democratic lawmakers and activists from labor unions and environmental groups opposes Obama's trade agenda, arguing that those trade deals have hurt U.S. workers and increased income inequality.

The Obama administration has deployed Cabinet secretaries to lobby Democrats to secure a bill that would grant the president the so-called trade promotion authority (TPA), which is necessary to conclude the trade deals with Asia and Europe currently under negotiation.

U.S. House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on Wednesday told reporters that he expected Congress to pass the TPA legislation with bipartisan support this spring.(PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/PJN

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