Q Thank you, Mr. President. You're here today touting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but Hillary Clinton is against it. Her vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine, has now reversed himself and is now against it. Donald Trump is, too, meaning that the next President is opposed to this deal. So my question is, if you take both candidates at their word, how do you plan to get Congress to pass this deal during the lame duck, and what’s your plan to convince members to do so given the opposition I just described?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, right now, I'm President, and I'm for it. And I think I've got the better argument. And I've made this argument before; I'll make it again. We are part of a global economy. We're not reversing that. It can't be reversed, because it is driven by technology, and it is driven by travel and cargo containers, and the fact that the demand for products inside of our country means we've got to get some things from other places, and our export sector is a huge contributor to jobs and our economic wellbeing. Most manufactured products now involve a global supply chain where parts are made in all corners of the globe, and converge and then get assembled and packaged and sold. And so the notion that we're going to pull that up root and branch is unrealistic. Point number one.
Point number two. It is absolutely true, the evidence shows that some past trade deals have not delivered on all the benefits that were promised and had very localized costs. There were communities that were hurt because plants moved out. People lost jobs. Jobs were created because of those trade deals, but jobs were also lost. And people who experienced those losses, those communities didn't get as much help as they needed to.
And what is also true as a consequence of globalization and automation, what you've seen is labor, workers losing leverage and capital being mobile, being able to locate around the world. That has all contributed to growing inequality both here in the United States, but in many advanced economies. So there’s a real problem, but the answer is not cutting off globalization. The answer is, how do we make sure that globalization, technology, automation -- those things work for us, not against us. And TPP is designed to do precisely that.
Number one, it knocks out 18,000 tariffs that other countries place on American products and goods. Our economy currently has fewer tariffs, is more open than many of our trading partners. So if everybody agrees that we're going to have lower tariffs, that's good for American businesses and American workers. And we should want that, we should pursue it.
Number two, the complaint about previous trade deals was that labor agreements and environmental agreements sounded good, but they weren’t enforceable the same way you could complain about tariffs and actually get action to ensure that tariffs were not enforced. Well, TPP actually strengthens labor agreements and environmental agreements. And they are just as enforceable as any other part of the agreement. In fact, people take them so seriously that right now, for example, Vietnam is drafting and presenting unprecedented labor reforms in Vietnam, changing their constitution to recognize worker organizations in Vietnam for the first time.
So what we're doing is we're raising standards for workers in those countries, which means it’s harder for them to undercut labor standards here in the United States. The same is true for environmental standards. The same is true for things like human trafficking, where we’ve got a country like Malaysia taking really serious efforts to crack down on human trafficking. Why? Because TPP says you need to. It gives us leverage to promote things that progressives and people here in this country, including labor unions, say they care about.
So if you care about preventing abuse of workers, child labor, wildlife trafficking, overfishing, the decimation of forests, all those things are addressed in this agreement. I have not yet heard anybody make an argument that the existing trading rules are better for issues like labor rights and environmental rights than they would be if we got TPP passed.
And so I’m going to continue to make this case. And I’ve got some very close friends, people I admire a lot, but who I just disagree with them. And that’s okay. I respect the arguments that they’re making. They’re coming from a sincere concern about the position or workers and wages in this country. But I think I’ve got the better argument, and I’ve got the evidence to support it.
And hopefully, after the election is over and the dust settles, there will be more attention to the actual facts behind the deal and it won’t just be a political symbol or a political football. And I will actually sit down with people on both sides, on the right and on the left. I’ll sit down publicly with them and we’ll go through the whole provisions. I would enjoy that, because there’s a lot of misinformation.
I’m really confident I can make the case this is good for American workers and the American people. And people said we weren’t going to be able to get the trade authority to even present this before Congress, and somehow we muddled through and got it done. And I intend to do the same with respect to the actual agreement.
I don't agree with everything President Obama said here, but I'm struck by the contrast between his remarks on the TPP and the discussion that is taking place as part of the Presidential campaign. It would be nice if there were other politicians -- both for and against the TPP -- who could talk about the issues with as much depth and nuance.