Washington – US president Barack Obama has scored a major victory in his battle to include the US in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact with Australia, New Zealand and nine other Pacific Rim nations.
The US Senate voted 60-38 on Wednesday to grant the president fast-track authority for the TPP but only after it was forced back there after a revolt by his own Democratic party in the House of Representatives.
Under the agreement, President Obama will be allowed to negotiate the terms of the TPP directly and Congress will get to vote a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether to accept it.
Unions and activists have continued to campaign against the controversial pact, which opponents say may limit the sovereignty of participating nations and would allow corporations to sue governments that took decisions against their interests.
They say negotiations for the pact are being held in secret and could be used to control the internet, harm free speech and push up pharmaceutical prices, among other criticisms.
Hilary Clinton, who is seeking selection as the 2017 Democrat presidential candidate has said critics within the party had ‘legitimate concerns’ but she has has so far reserved judgment on the TPP itself.
– with AAP