THE outcome of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal has put America’s credibility on the line, Singapore’s prime minister said in a candid assessment of the pact.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says for America’s friends and partners in the Asia-Pacific, ratification of TPP is “a litmus test of your credibility.”
Lee was speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ahead of a meeting Tuesday with President Barack Obama at the White House.
Lee said that America is better off with its “doors open” to trade.
The TPP has been negotiated by the Obama administration, but is opposed by both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees.
Singapore is a signatory to the 12-nation pact, finalized in February. TPP would eliminate trade barriers and tariffs but critics say the pact undercuts American workers by introducing lower-wage competition.
“There’s no prospect of doing better, and every chance of having it fall apart. Asian countries want America to be engaged. We need to know that this engagement will be sustained and we need to know that agreements will be upheld,” Lee was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama said Singapore is considered an anchor for America’s presence in Asia, adding the visit is an opportunity to “reaffirm our ties and friendship with our closest partners around the world.”
“This visit is an occasion to mark the 50th anniversary of our bilateral relationship with Singapore, which is one of our strongest and most reliable partners in Southeast Asia,” Obama said during an interview with the Straits Times prior to the meeting.
“I look forward to hosting Prime Minister Lee, whose friendship and partnership I appreciate very much and with whom I’ve worked throughout my administration.”
Additional reporting from Associated Press