One of the world’s biggest multinational trade deals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been signed by 12 member nations in New Zealand and will now undergo a two-year ratification period in which at least six countries must approve the final text for the deal to be implemented. The Trans-Pacific Partnership encompasses 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, and 40 percent of the world’s economy. Opponents say it will benefit corporations at the expense of health, the environment, free speech and labor rights. Activists have kicked off a worldwide series of protests around the signing of the trade pact, including a nonviolent blockade of the convention center in Auckland where the signing took place. A Maori tribe refused a request to perform at a welcome ceremony for trade ministers, saying the TPP threatens sovereignty. Meanwhile, the White House has warned Congress that a delay in ratifying the deal will cost the U.S. economy. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Obama administration is doing everything in its power to move it forward.
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