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Trade deal Trump trashed gets endorsement from American business group

  • American business association AmCham Singapore on Friday urged the 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to finish the deal without the U.S.
  • President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP trade agreement shortly after taking office
container ship trade
Alkis Konstantinidis | Reuters

An American business group endorsed on Friday a trade deal that no longer includes the U.S. and has been deemed a "disaster" by President Donald Trump.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, or AmCham Singapore, may be the first U.S. business association to endorse the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal excluding the U.S.

"The TPP is, by far, the best and most strategic trade framework from a business perspective — even without the U.S. government in it — as the high standard elements within it are supportive of U.S. businesses," Steve Okun, chairman of the AmCham Singapore TPP Task Force, said in a Friday statement obtained by CNBC.

The TPP had been considered all but dead after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact shortly after taking office in January, claiming the broad 12-nation trade deal was a "disaster" that would hurt U.S. manufacturing.

In May, the 11 nations remaining in the trade partnership agreed to pursue a deal without the U.S., examining options for bringing it into force "expeditiously."

The group said at the time it aimed to complete the assessment before it meets again on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in mid-November in Vietnam.

AmCham Singapore, noting that the city-state in which it's based often serves as the Asian headquarters for U.S. businesses, said it wanted the TPP-11 nations to implement the deal as soon as possible, calling it "the future of sustainable trade."

"Not only does this agreement provide duty-free access to the TPP-11 members for nearly all goods and all manufactured goods, it also dramatically opens up opportunities for the flow of services and investment sectors," the AmCham Singapore statement said.

It added that the deal improved intellectual property protections and opened up some government procurement contracts as well as including "unprecedented" environmental and labor protections.

In October of last year, 58 AmCham Singapore members, including Coca-Cola, Citi, 3M, Harley-Davidson and HP, signed a letter to the U.S. Congress urging the passage of TPP, citing the "competitive disadvantage" they suffered within Asia as they lacked duty-free access to the region's markets.