WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to focus on the Trans-Pacific Partnership during a trip to the Philippines and Malaysia next week, as part of the strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.

“The TPP is central to our vision of the region’s future and our place in it,” said National Security Advisor Susan Rice during a White House briefing on Thursday.

“America’s interests are integrally linked to the Asia-Pacific region,” she said.  “This is where our security interests meet our economic interests in an undeniable way.”

President Obama is scheduled to attending the APEC summit in Manila next week, followed by the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur during his six-day stay in the region.

Obama is expected to address other critical issues during the leaders' gatherings, which will include bilateral talks on issues ranging from cybersecurity, maritime security, human rights, counter-terrorism and climate change.

APEC Member Economies
APEC Member Economies

“The TPP, APEC are ways the U.S. will use to try and stay very engaged with the dynamism of the economies in Asia,” said Murray Hiebert, with the Central for Strategic and International Studies.”

The trade deal must be ratified by member countries.  It faces tough opposition in the U.S. Congress, where some critics argue it does not do enough to protect American workers and interests.

White House officials say the administration is focused on building an open economy in the region with high standards and clear and transparent rules that support American prosperity and workers.

“We’re strengthening relations with our treaty allies, we’re building ties to new partners and strengthening regional institutions such as APEC and the East Asia summit during meetings next week,” said Rice. “And these together all help write the region’s rules of the road.”

FILE - A container ship is moored at the Port of S
FILE - A container ship is moored at the Port of Seattle's seaport on the Duwamish Waterway. Trade is an important element of Obama's rebalance policy.