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Obama warns of job losses without TPP as ANZ Bank pushes ratification

In a last-ditch effort to push the TPP through Congress, Obama's administration has said millions of US jobs will be at risk, while ANZ Bank is also pushing ratification in Australia.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The administration of United States President Barack Obama has warned Congress of the dangers of not ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying millions of jobs will be at risk, with Australia's ANZ Bank also pushing ratification across the Pacific.

ANZ's submission was at odds with those from the Australian IT industry, saying it "strongly" supports ratification of the TPP.

"ANZ believes TPPA is in Australia's national interest," the bank said in its submission.

"TPPA is a pioneering agreement that, when ratified, will encompass more than one third of global GDP and more than one quarter of global trade. It will provide many opportunities for Australian businesses, particularly in the services sector, at a time when diversification is of great importance to the Australian economy. It is a substantial step forward in engagement with Asia, which has been a long-term policy ambition for successive Australian governments.

"Not joining the TPAA risks being 'left out' of global value chains and new trade patterns."

Calling it an "unprecedented opportunity", ANZ said the TPP will support a more diversified economy, benefit small and medium enterprises, and encourage inward and outward investment. The TPP would boost the GDP by 0.9 percent or AU$19.5 billion over the next 15 years, ANZ added, with exports expected to be boosted by 4.9 percent or AU$38 billion until 2030.

Meanwhile, the United States government is being warned by its current president that should it fail to pass the TPP, a China-led deal could instead be brought through the Asia-Pacific region, which would put millions of jobs across the US at risk.

Obama, who has two months left in office after next week's election, will continue trying to push the trade deal through. If Congress continues balking at passing the TPP, 35 US industrial sectors could lose substantial ground to Chinese competitors just in the Japanese market, senior administration officials said; Japanese tariffs would be twice as high for US companies as those levelled at Chinese companies if the TPP fails to go through.

"If TPP is not passed and RCEP [China's Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] is enacted, which is what all these countries say they are planning to do, then US businesses would face a direct loss of competitive position," said Council of Economic Advisers chair Jason Furman.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in August similarly told the US Chamber of Commerce that the ratification of the TPP is "a litmus test of your credibility", adding that the nation will be better off with its "doors open" to trade.

Obama's administration signed off on the TPP.

"The TPP allows American businesses to sell their products both at home and abroad. The more we sell abroad, the more higher-paying jobs we provide here at home. It's that simple," Obama said in June.

However, both Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump oppose the trade agreement, putting its ratification at risk, with critics claiming it will undercut American workers by introducing lower-wage competition.

US Senator Orrin Hatch, a US Senate Finance Committee chairman, has also claimed that Australia wants to use the TPP to steal medicine patents from the US.

The Australian government is due to hold its final public hearing on the TPP on Monday in Canberra, and will hear from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; IP Australia; the Department of Health; the Department of Immigration and Border Protection; the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources; the Attorney-General's Department; the Department of Communications; the Department of Employment; the Department of Finance; the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science; and the Treasury.

"While there is broad support for the genuine benefits the TPP will bring, participants in the inquiry have criticised aspects of the Agreement," said Parliament Treaties Committee Chair Stuart Robert.

"Contentious issues include the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism, aspects of Australian intellectual property law, the temporary entry provisions for professionals, and the transparency of the negotiation process.

"Government witnesses are expected to address these and other issues during the hearing."

Earlier this week, submissions from Open Source Industry Australia and Law Council of Australia's Business Law Section Intellectual Property Committee recommended that the international treaty not be ratified until the problems of complexity and inconsistency are addressed in regards to intellectual property and copyright protection provisions.

The Australian Digital Alliance and Copyright Advisory Group last month argued at the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties: Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement hearing that without the more extensive safe harbour provisions under the proposed Copyright Act amendments, Australia will be in breach of its TPP obligations.

The TPP, signed by all 12 member states in February, will regulate trade between Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile.

With AAP

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