WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Saturday began a broad sales pitch to the US public about the merits of free trade deals, an area in which he faces stiff resistance from many in his own Democratic party.
Obama has said he wants to work with Congressional Republicans to finalise the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, an agreement that would stretch from Japan to Chile, covering 40 per cent of the world economy.
“I’m the first to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype,” Obama said in his weekly address. “But that doesn’t mean we should close ourselves off from new opportunities.”
The first step in working with other nations to finalize the TPP deal is to pass “fast track” legislation to streamline the passage of trade deals through Congress.
Polling data from the Pew Research Center shows Americans from both parties are skeptical about trade. Only one in five Americans think trade creates jobs, and only 17 per cent believe trade leads to higher wages.