FAILURE to ratify the US-led trade pact, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), would result in China receiving "the keys to the castle" on globalisation and do nothing to solve the problems underlying American anxiety over jobs, according to US Trade Representative Michael Froman.
The tariff-slashing TPP has turned into a hot-button topic in the run-up to the US presidential election, threatening to dampen support from lawmakers needed to pass a deal critics condemn as a job-killer, Reuters reports.
Mr Froman said he was optimistic Congress would pass the 12-member TPP, in part because China has been moving ahead with a trade deal of its own, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), that would lift its exports and enable it to set labour and environmental standards in Asia Pacific.
"We're one vote away from either cementing our leadership in this region and in the global trading system or ceding it to China," Mr Froman told reporters in Lima after attending the inauguration of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
"At the end of the day I don't think Congress wants to be responsible for handing the keys to the castle to China."
Republican nominee Donald Trump has called the TPP a "death blow" for manufacturing jobs and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has firmed up her opposition to it in recent days.
Mr Froman declined to comment on the candidates, but said the TPP had become a "scapegoat" for legitimate concerns over income inequality, stagnant wages and jobs lost to automation. "You don't get to vote on the next generation of robots," he said, "you get to vote on trade agreements."
Source : HKSG.