- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The White House hit back Wednesday at Donald Trump’s criticism of President Obama’s free-trade deal with Pacific Rim nations, saying the pact is an upgrade of the much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement of the Clinton era.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes Mexico and Canada, essentially has renegotiated the terms of NAFTA to raise labor standards in all 12 countries that signed the deal this year. He said Mr. Obama has succeeded with TPP in making trade “more fair to U.S. workers and the broader U.S. economy.”

In an apparent reference to Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mr. Earnest commented, “Are you just going to bemoan the impact of globalization on the U.S. economy, on some U.S. workers, and on some U.S. communities? Or are you actually going to do something about it?”

In Pittsburgh, Mr. Trump vowed Tuesday to cancel the TPP and to demand that Canada and Mexico accept sweeping changes to NAFTA.

“This is not some natural disaster. It is politician-made disaster,” Mr. Trump said of declining U.S. manufacturing. “It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism.”

Later, at a rally in Ohio, Mr. Trump said the TPP is “a continuing rape of our country.”

Mr. Earnest said “there’s no denying” that some U.S. workers and communities have been hurt by “the broader forces of globalization.”

“We’ve already succeeded in renegotiating NAFTA. That’s exactly what the TPP does, is it includes obviously countries in the Asia Pacific as well, but it includes Canada and Mexico and it raises standards related to the environment and to labor conditions in all of the countries that have signed the agreement,” he said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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