WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will meet with a group of business and government leaders on Friday morning to discuss the economic and security benefits of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, the White House said.
“Tomorrow’s discussion is an opportunity for the president to hear directly from a diverse coalition of experts and leaders in their fields on how the Trans-Pacific Partnership can benefit American workers and businesses and further our national security,” a White House spokeswoman said in a statement on Thursday.
Obama has made the 12-nation free trade deal the centerpiece of a diplomatic “pivot” to Asia, but the prospects for congressional approval have looked increasingly dim. Both major presidential candidates for the Nov. 8 election – Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump – oppose the agreement.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will not vote on the pact this year, punting it to the next president, who will take office in January.
The White House said businessman and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards, Ohio Governor and former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich and IBM <IBM.N> Chief Executive Ginni Rometty were among those who would attend the meeting with Obama.
Obama said in a speech on the sidelines of a summit in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 6 that a failure to move ahead with the TPP would “call into question America’s leadership.”
Administration officials have argued a failure to approve the trade pact would cede ground to China in the region and allow it to increasingly set the terms of world trade.
(Reporting by Eric Walsh and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Peter Cooney)