WASHINGTON — The White House clinched another win in its bid to garner support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal as the Business Roundtable, comprised of chief executives from major U.S. corporations, endorsed the 12-nation trade agreement on Tuesday.
The Business Roundtable’s support came a day after the National Association of Manufacturers backed the TPP, which is facing a tough battle for approval in Congress in a presidential election year.
Among the industry’s top chief executive officers who are members of Business Roundtable are: Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and ceo of Macy’s Inc.; Doug McMillon, president and ceo of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; Brian Cornell, chairman and ceo of Target Corp.; David S. Taylor, president and ceo of Procter & Gamble Co., and Richard A. Noll, chairman and ceo of Hanesbrands Inc.
“Business Roundtable supports the TPP because this significant agreement will promote U.S. economic leadership and much-needed U.S. growth and jobs by expanding U.S. trade opportunities and setting strong new rules for international commerce,” said Tom Linebarger, chairman and ceo of Cummins Inc. and chair of the Business Roundtable International Engagement Committee. “We want Congress to approve the TPP this year. To that end, we are urging the administration to quickly address the remaining issues that impact certain business sectors in order to ensure the broadest possible benefits to all sectors of U.S. business, which will enable the broadest support possible for the TPP.”
Trade ministers reached a deal in October on TPP, which includes the U.S., Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Chile, Brunei and New Zealand. The pact, encompassing 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, seeks to eliminate import duties, strengthen labor and environmental provisions, ease the flow of cross-border trade and strengthen intellectual property protections.
The backing from yet another major business group is welcome news for President Obama, who is trying to secure a major component of his legacy but is facing opposition from many in his own party as well as all of the Democratic presidential candidates. In addition, some key Republican leaders have expressed concerns about TPP.
Support from leading business groups could help sway lawmakers facing reelection this fall who are wary about voting on a trade bill this year. Obama will need support from Republicans in Congress to reach final approval of the deal. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one key group that has not yet taken a position on TPP.
“The TPP will open up and expand markets for U.S. companies, creating and supporting jobs here at home. Ninety-six percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States. Those are consumers and businesses that want to buy American products and services,” said Doug Oberhelman, chairman and ceo of Caterpillar Inc., and chairman of Business Roundtable. “International trade supports more than one in five American jobs, and the United States must continue to expand trade relations around the world, including in the dynamic Asia-Pacific market.”
The group said the U.S. and other TPP countries have a combined population of 810 million people and noted that nearly 45 percent of U.S. goods exports went to the other 11 TPP countries in 2014.
The trade deal will help boost U.S. exports by tearing down an estimated 18,000 in duties on American-made products, the Business Roundtable said, citing figures from the Obama administration.
“The TPP is a trade agreement for the modern, global economy that includes provisions related to digital commerce and trade in services, fair competition with state-owned enterprises, intellectual property rights and investment protections, and labor and environmental standards,” Linebarger added.