Influential Republican Congressman Ed Royce said he supports President Barack Obama on his ambitious Asia-Pacific free trade agenda.
“I am with the president. I am with trade promotion authority for any president to negotiate these trade agreements,” Royce told VOA’s Carol Castiel.
“Nobody’s going to negotiate with you unless they know you have the ability to put together a deal,” he said.
The document, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, would redefine trade and business investment among the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations.
Supporters say the pact has the potential to boost economic growth and support American jobs. It is the cornerstone of Obama’s economic policy in the Asia-Pacific region.
Following a high-tariff period in the 1930s that exacerbated a global economic depression, “we discovered that a better policy is lower tariffs, but with intellectual property protection standards [built in]," Royce said. "That helped lead to an environment where many people became better off, in Africa, Latin America and in Asia.”
“We have the ability to continue to grow that prosperity worldwide. To do that, we have to start by giving the president trade promotion authority,” said Royce.
Republicans generally support such free trade agreements, but many in the party are reluctant to play a role in giving Obama what is seen as a major political achievement, especially ahead of 2016 elections.
Royce also asserted a TPP that includes intellectual property protections could counter China’s aggressive moves in the Pacific Rim.
“If that gets set as part of the agreement, it would help direct China in a much more productive way that, in the long term, would be better for China. The rule of law and an independent court system to adjudicate commercial disputes can help societies in many ways as you expand rule of law,” Royce said.