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Obama asks Congress for power to set trade pacts
[WASHINGTON] President Barack Obama asked Congress on Tuesday to give him the powers to fully negotiate huge transpacific and transatlantic free-trade agreements, arguing it will boost the economy and help American workers.
Obama warned in his annual State of the Union address that China is aiming to write its own trade rules for the Asian region, a move "that would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage." "Why would we let that happen? We should level the playing field," he said.
"That's why I'm asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren't just free, but fair." Obama, seeking to complete the huge Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership trade pacts, admitted that past trade deals "haven't always lived up to the hype." "But ninety-five percent of the world's customers live outside our borders, and we can't close ourselves off from those opportunities." Obama is seeking so-called fast-track authority that would allow the White House to negotiate complete trade deals and to submit them in their entirety to Congress to ratify, without the power to amend them.
Republicans in Congress have shown substantial support for giving Obama those powers, while his own Democratic Party is resisting, worried that the proposed deals could lead to job losses in US industry.