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  • A general view of the North Lawn of the White House in Washington.

    A general view of the North Lawn of the White House in Washington. | Photo: Reuters

White House officials urged Congress to approve the TPP as soon as possible, despite widespread concerns from civil society groups.

Several top White House officials emphasized the urgent need to obtain congressional approval of the the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, arguing Wednesday that delaying the deal will damage the U.S. economy.

"We're committed to keeping all the options on the table in terms of timing to maximize the chances of securing the support for TPP but at the same time delay is costly," said Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council during a conference leading up to President Barack Obama's signing of a customs trade enforcement measure.

However, critics warn that if approved, the real cost of the deal would be felt by U.S. workers. A recent report carried out by researchers from Tufts University, concluded that 450,000 American jobs would be lost under the TPP.

RELATED: Reckless Trade Deals Champion Corporations at Peril of Climate

Despite these concerns, President Obama confirmed Wednesday that his administration would send the agreement to Congress for a vote “at some point this year."

The TPP pact was formally signed Feb. 4 in New Zealand. However, key members in the U.S. Congress have stated that they do not expect the TPP to be considered until after the presidential elections.

“Once we’ve set up trade rules, people have to abide by them," Obama said on Wednesday. “Overall, this is an example of smart trade policy in the 21st century," he said about referring to the proposed trade deal.

RELATED: TPP Threatens Indigenous Land Rights Says the UN

The 12-country trade agreement includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The international trade deal has been widely condemned for privileging corporate profits over international public interests.

WATCH: TPP: Corporate Power Grab


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