President Barack Obama is hoping to rally support from hundreds of thousands of eBay sellers as part of his campaign to promote the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
In a letter posted to eBay Mainstreet, President Obama implored eBay's online business community to research the benefits of the TPP and how it stands to "help you and small business owners like you across the country."
The TPP is the cornerstone of President Obama's trade agenda. According to the Obama administration, the agreement contains measures to "promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections."
After years of tense negotiations, an agreement on the TPP was finally reached in October to regulate trade between Australia, the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile. The TPP has yet to be signed and ratified by the 12 Pacific Rim nations that are parties to it.
As for his pitch to eBay sellers, President Obama said the TPP is the first ever trade agreement to include a chapter dedicated to small business, "addressing the chief obstacles so many business owners like you face in the global economy."
With another chapter dedicated to e-commerce, the President said the agreement simplifies the export process for small businesses, eliminates 18,000 tariffs on American-made products, and outlines rules for digital trade that will protect online businesses in the global market.
"In the last six years, the number of people connecting to the Internet has nearly doubled to 3 billion, with the fastest growth in developing regions like Southeast Asia," Obama wrote. "In fact, TPP trading partners are home to over 300 million Internet users, and they're looking to connect and buy from sellers like you."
Obama also said the agreement would streamline burdensome customs regulations while also bolstering delivery and secure digital payments.
"Hate all the paperwork that accompanies doing global business today?" Obama quipped. "TPP also promotes paperless trading -- transitioning customs forms from paper to electronic format and providing for electronic authentication and signatures for consumer transactions," he said.
The President also cited one of the more controversial components of the TPP involving digital privacy and copyright issues. As President Obama sees it, the TPP will preserve a free and open Internet and work to strengthen "intellectual property rights to fight counterfeiting and theft."
But critics of the TPP point to the fine print of the bill's intellectual property chapter, saying it forces internet service providers (ISPs) to give up the details of copyright infringers in order allow rights holders to protect and enforce their copyright through criminal and civil means, and with few limitations.