Obama wins Indonesian backing for Pacific trade pact | Singapore Informer

US President Barack Obama won Indonesia’s endorsement for a contentious trans-Pacific trade deal Monday, with the president of Southeast Asia’s largest economy vowing to join.During a meeting with Obama at the White House, Joko Widodo risked the ire of economic nationalists at home and pledged to join the pact.”Indonesia is an open economy and with a population of 250 million, we are the largest economy in Southeast Asia,” Widodo said in the Oval Office. “Indonesia intends to join the TPP.” Twelve countries are currently party to the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” — including Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and the United States — creating the world’s largest free trade area.The deal is seen by some as a counterbalance to growing Chinese economic clout in the region.Widodo’s endorsement is a political victory for Obama, who is steering the already completed pact through a hostile Republican-controlled Congress and without the full backing of his Democratic party.Hillary Clinton, the 2016 election frontrunner, has said the deal falls short of the “high bar” she had set for helping US interests.Obama has claimed the TPP has the strongest labor and environmental standards of any trade deal signed by the United States.Widodo comments will also raise hopes that he will help catalyze the world’s most populous Muslim nation, allowing Indonesia to finally punch its weight.Sketching out a “key strategic partnership” Obama — who lived in Indonesia for nearly five years as a child — said the US needed good relations with Jakarta.”Obviously I have a very personal interest in Indonesia, given the fact…

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