TPP opposition could affect view of US commitment to Pacific
TOKYO — Domestic politics could torpedo half a decade of diplomatic, military and trade engagement in the Pacific with both presidential candidates pushing policies opposed by America’s friends and allies.
Pledges by Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump to ditch the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, free-trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim nations are a top concern for many in the region.
While there is a signed agreement, it has not been ratified. TPP can take effect only if Congress approves it.
Economists believe international trade increases competition, lowers the cost of goods and services for consumers and increases exporters’ access to larger markets. Critics argue that U.S. workers lose out to foreign workers willing to work for less and that American companies face unfair competition from abroad.
The TPP — involving the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — is a central plank of Washington’s “Pacific pivot,” which reflects President Barack Obama’s administration view of the region as its highest long-term priority.
The pivot, in the works since 2011, has seen six out of every 10 Navy ships sent to the region and diplomats engaging more with Pacific friends and allies as they grapple with a stronger and more aggressive China.
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