Washington, Apr 29: US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have pledged to complete a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement even as the American leader acknowledged there was opposition to the deal, which he said would be the most progressive trade bill in the history.
The two leaders agreed that their nations would work to bring a quick, successful conclusion to talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, despite the failure of US and Japanese negotiators to work out the final terms of a bilateral deal essential to any broader accord.
"With respect to TPP, it's never fun passing a trade bill in this town because people are understandably concerned about its potential impacts on specific industries but also the general concerns that people have had about globalisation and technology displacing workers," Obama told a White House news conference along with Abe.
"We're addressing those systematically. Here's what I'm confident about: This will end up being the most progressive trade bill in history. It will have the kinds of labour and environmental and human rights protections that have been absent in previous agreements," he said responding to a question at the Rose Garden news conference.
"It's going to be enforceable. It's going to open up markets that currently are not fully open to US businesses. Its going to be good for the US economy," Obama asserted, hoping that the Congress would ultimately pass the bill. The Pacific trade deal has drawn opposition in the US from labour unions and Democratic lawmakers who normally are allies with Obama.
They contend it will cost many US workers their jobs as corporations move their operations overseas in pursuit of cheaper labour costs. Abe said he would like the TPP be concluded as soon as possible.
"In the Asia Pacific region this is a region where growth is very prominent. And in such a region, for people and goods and money under proper rules to flow freely, without a doubt we'll make affluent the countries participating in the TPP, in the Asia Pacific. And the people in the countries will be able to lead affluent lives. I believe this will feed into this," he said.
"So for this purpose as well, as soon as possible, with the general publics understanding, toward early conclusion of the TPP, we'd like to make efforts. And in this context, Japan and the United States -- or with President Barack Obama and myself -- we want to exert leadership to bring about an early conclusion of the TPP," Abe said.