Free trade campaign weapon for US presidential candidates
Washington: Amid a domestic controversy on free trade, US presidential candidates of both Democrats and the Republicans have been publicly opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact to woo voters, utilising the issue to gain political interests for themselves. “The rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign has effectively weaponised free trade,” US political news organisation Politico said in an article. During a campaign event in Youngstown, Ohio, on Saturday, Hillary Clinton said she supports tougher trade rules regarding the auto industry, criticising auto provisions in the 12-nation TPP pact, Xinhua reported. Clinton’s hard stance aims to prevent Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, a sharp trade critic, from winning over more voters in the coming primaries, with the next one to be held on Tuesday in Ohio. The announcement is a step toward strengthening her position on trade issues following Clinton’s loss in Michigan last week, which may have been driven by Sanders’ anti-trade message, the Washington Post said in an article. Clinton has been fiercely criticised by Sanders over her past support of trade deals, including the TPP pact, a deal she once advocated as secretary of state, and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed in the 1990s, when her husband was president.