- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

SKOWHEGAN, Maine (AP) - New Balance is pulling off the gloves when it comes to opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The company that employs 900 people at Maine factories in Skowhegan, Norridgewock and Norway is speaking out after the U.S. military dragged its feet on an agreement to buy American-made footwear.

The free-trade agreement covers a dozen countries, including Vietnam. New Balance says Vietnam already has a low-cost advantage and that it’ll be even more difficult to compete under the agreement.

Company spokesman Matt LeBretton said the Obama administration promised it’d work on the military orders in exchange for New Balance going along on the trade agreement. But Republican Sen. Susan Collins says the defense department has been stringing the company along for years.

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