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Allies reach Pacific Rim trade deal likely to divide political parties

| Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, 7:21 p.m.

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations struck a tentative trade agreement Monday, a landmark deal that has the potential to transform the global economy, divide political parties in Congress, and roil the American presidential race.

As President Obama and aides began selling the agreement —details of which are not released — to Congress and the public, critics denounced it as another free trade deal that will help ship American jobs overseas.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will “promote economic growth” and “support higher paying jobs,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, making the announcement along with other trade ministers in Atlanta to end days of final negotiations.

The huge proposed agreement — which awaits months of debate in Congress — would tie together nearly 40 percent of the world's economy, from Canada to Chile to Japan to Australia; it would be the largest regional trade agreement in history.

Critics, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, said employers will use the agreement to move jobs to poorer countries that have lower wages and fewer regulations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell, R-Ky., the chamber's top Republican, vowed “intense scrutiny” of the proposed agreement.

Government officials across the Pacific Rim hailed the proposed deal as an advance for the global economy. In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “a major outcome not just for Japan but also for the future of the Asia-Pacific.”

Besides America and Japan, TPP countries are Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico and Canada. Not included in the deal: China.

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