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US debates TPP and its benefits

There is an ongoing debate in the United States on how the Trans Pacific Partnership can benefit the country. Manufacturing workers and unions think another free trade deal will inevitably hurt them. The last half-century of globalisation, they feel, has coincided with a massive loss of blue-collar jobs.

Big business is mostly in favor of the deal, although not universally so. Tobacco companies are unhappy that it deprives them of the right to sue countries that restrict trade by limiting cigarette sales. Pharmaceutical companies complain that they aren’t getting enough protection for their patents.

Hollywood, Silicon Valley and agribusiness mostly like the deal, which protects entertainment copyrights, eases the flow of data across borders and opens doors for US exports of meat and rice to Asia.

However the TPP isn’t only about trade. It’s also about economic reform, higher labor standards and environmental protection in developing countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia. And it's a way to knit countries on the Pacific Rim into a trading system that the United States helped design instead of one run by China.

However, there is a growing conviction TPP will not create jobs, protect the environment or ensure safe imports. Rather it appears modeled after the North American Free Trade Agreement, where the largest global corporations benefit and working families are left behind.