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Most US Presidential Candidates Oppose TPP

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at Clark Atlanta University, Oct. 30, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event at Clark Atlanta University, Oct. 30, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Most U.S. Candidates Oppose TPP
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More candidates running for president oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal (TPP) than support it.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton is the latest to declare her opposition to the deal. The TPP was negotiated by the Obama administration.

As Secretary of State, Clinton described Obama’s TPP as the “gold standard” of trade agreements.

But this month she said the final deal does not appear acceptable.

“I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set,” she said.

Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s top challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, opposed the agreement. He maintained that stance even before the deal was finalized.

“We need trade policies that promote the interests of American workers not just the CEOs of corporations,” he said, after 12 nations announced agreement on the Pacific trade deal Oct. 4.

Republican presidential candidates are divided. Businessman Donald Trump, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee oppose the deal.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich are mostly in support of the agreement.

Others, including former surgeon Ben Carson, said they are waiting for more information before expressing a view.

The U.S. Congress will likely vote to accept or reject the deal long before the winning candidate takes office in January 2017.

Potential trouble in Congress for TPP

The trade agreement eliminates, or reduces tariffs, and other barriers to trade among 12 nations.

Ministers from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan and Malaysia approved the deal. It was also approved by ministers from Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

The approval came on October 4.

Congress has never voted against a major trade deal. The TPP might lack support from U.S. politicians who are running for president or who are trying to keep their congressional seats.

Many U.S. businesses support the trade deal. They say it will export more of their products to Asian markets. But unions fear job losses, and cuts in wages and benefits, if the trade deal is approved.

“Democrats are very much interested in the support of unions, and the labor movement is opposed to this deal,” said Brian Brox, a political science professor at Tulane University.

He said that most voters may not understand the complicated agreement. But many are likely to see it as being helpful to big businesses rather than American workers.

Also many Republicans are not inclined to support a proposal by President Barack Obama – a Democrat. That makes it harder for a Republican candidate for president to support an agreement his administration negotiated.

“For Republicans, candidates not supporting something backed by President Obama is never a bad idea,” Brox said. In other words, voting against Obama’s projects is good for Republicans.

Trump tweeted comments about the deal that played to Republican primary voters opposed to President Obama. He tweeted that the Obama administration was “incompetant. TPP is a terrible deal.”

Rubio, the Florida senator, said he wants to see more details before taking a firm position.

However, he told CNBC: “I’m generally very much in favor of free trade.”

What is TPP?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership sets rules for investments from one country to another. It includes protections for intellectual property such as patents and computer software.

The deal covers more issues than is the case with some free trade agreements.

It is “basically a free trade agreement on steroids,” Columbia University international economics lecturer Andrea Bubula said on #Hashtag VOA.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the trade agreement will improve the U.S. economy. It will allow more U.S. products to be exported than foreign products will be imported to the U.S.

U.S. products face tariffs as high as 70 percent on autos, 50 percent on machinery, and 700 percent on certain agricultural products, Froman said.

Eliminating or reducing the high tariffs will make U.S. products more competitive, he said.

I'm Mario Ritter. And I'm Anna Matteo.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

partnership -- n. the state of being partners.

opposition – n. actions or opinions that show that you disagree with or disapprove of someone or something

gold standard – n. something that is considered to be the best and that is used to judge the quality or level of other, similar things

challenger – n. someone competing against a candidate

on steroids – phrase. Bigger or greater than normal.

negotiations – n. something that is considered to be the best and that is used to judge the quality or level of other, similar things

eliminates -- v. -- to remove (something that is not wanted or needed) : to get rid of (something)

complicated – adj. hard to understand, explain, or deal with