Obama makes pitch to win support for Pacific trade pact

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Obama Begins Selling Trans-Pacific Trade Deal

U.S. President Barack Obama kicked off a sales pitch on Tuesday for a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement, urging farmers to push their lawmakers to approve what he called a "generational deal."

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Although ultimate winners and losers from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are still unclear, some Republicans are worried about its impact on industries including dairy, tobacco and pharmaceuticals, highlighting the battle ahead to win votes.

Obama was upbeat about winning support in the Republican-controlled Congress for the pact, which will cut trade barriers and expand access to 40 percent of the world economy.

See images of protests over the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

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Obama makes pitch to win support for Pacific trade pact
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 28: Malaysia's non-governmental organization (NGO) show the message placard during protest against Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) controversial outside Malaysian Parliament on October 28, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia needs to decide whether it will join Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by mid of January next year. (Photo by Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 28: A women from Malaysia's non-governmental organization (NGO) show the placard during protest against Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) controversial outside Malaysian Parliament on October 28, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia needs to decide whether it will join Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by mid of January next year. (Photo by Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 28: Malaysia's non-governmental organization (NGO) show the Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak and President of America Barrack Obama poster during protest against Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) controversial outside Malaysian Parliament on October 28, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia needs to decide whether it will join Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by mid of January next year. (Photo by Mohd Samsul Mohd Said/Getty Images)
Demonstrators, holding conch shells, line Kaanapali Beach in Lahaina, Hawaii, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Ministers from 12 Pacific Rim nations are gathering at the Westin Maui resort on the beach to negotiate a new trade pact. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
Protestors blowing conch shells line Kaanapali Beach in Lahaina, Hawaii, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Ministers from 12 Pacific Rim nations are gathering at the Westin Maui resort on the beach to negotiate a new trade pact. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Protestors gather around the US Embassy following a protest march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors gather around the US Embassy following a protest march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Levi Hawken joins an anti TPPA protest march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Musician Tiki Taane joins an anti TPPA protest march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 15: Anti TPPA protestors march down Queen Street on August 15, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
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"Ultimately we're going to get this done, and it will be an enormous achievement for us to be able to make sure that 40 percent of the world's economy is operating under rules that don't hurt us," Obama told agricultural and business leaders gathered at the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Early reaction from lawmakers was not encouraging, although they stressed they were waiting on details.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saw "a number of troubling parts" in the deal, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said the administration could lose "quite a few" Republican votes.

Hatch said it was a mistake that U.S. negotiators had not secured a minimum 12-year monopoly for the manufacturers of next-generation biological drugs and held out the option of trying to re-open the deal.

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr who, like McConnell, comes from a tobacco-growing state was upset by rules targeting tobacco companies' ability to take legal action over anti-smoking laws.

"I'd say they are going to come up woefully short (of votes) based on the (agricultural) community," he said.

Farmers and key business groups have yet to give their verdict on the deal, announced early on Monday.

But Obama spoke directly to farmers in a radio program carried on hundreds of stations in the Midwest and Texas, pledging the deal would be a "boon" for selling more beef in Japanand Vietnam. He asked for help selling the TPP to lawmakers.

"I think that if the agricultural community is strong and pushing on this issue, that will be an enormous, enormous base from which we can get this thing passed," Obama said in the interview with Brownfield Ag News.

"Make sure that you push Congress hard because this is a generational deal that you don't want to pass up," he said.

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The White House said Obama would continue to make the case for the TPP as Congress reviews it, with a vote still months away.

Lawmakers from manufacturing regions hit by past free trade deals also have concerns. Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a former U.S. trade representative, criticized a lack of "teeth" in preventing countries from devaluing their currencies to make their exports cheaper.

Obama said in an interview with radio show Marketplace that it was a good starting point that TPP countries agreed on a set of principles on how to measure currency manipulation.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and David Lawder in Washington and Karl Plume in Chicago; editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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