WASHINGTON — President Obama dismissed Hillary Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement Tuesday and suggested that her disapproval of the deal may be politically motivated.

“Right now, I’m president, and I’m for it,” he said at a news conference with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. “And I think I’ve got the better argument.”

Later, he continued, “Hopefully, after the election is over and the dust settled, there will be more attention to the actual facts behind the deal, and it won’t just be a political symbol or a political football.”

If ratified, the pact, known as TPP, would seek to strengthen economic ties across the world’s largest ocean by slashing more than 18,000 tariffs among 12 Pacific Rim nations: the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru. Together, these countries comprise about 40 percent of the world’s economy.

Noticeably absent from the TPP is China.

Obama also said that if the U.S. doesn’t step up and set a precedent for Pacific commerce, then China will likely establish a “lowest common denominator trade deal” that risks environmental regulations, human trafficking laws and U.S. national security.


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