UPS CEO sees 'sense of urgency' over TPP as China seeks own deal

August 15, 2016 1:13 PM EDT

A UPS delivery truck makes its way through Times Square in New York March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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By Nick Carey

LOUISVILLE (Reuters) - The head of United Parcel Service Inc (NYSE: UPS) said on Monday the United States runs the risk of missing out on setting the terms for international trade by not approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and said the company is lobbying members of Congress to approve the deal.

"We think there's a sense of urgency there," UPS Chief Executive Officer David Abney told Reuters.

He pointed to China's negotiations with 15 other countries on an alternative trade deal called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

"If that goes through, that would be China setting the rules for trade in that part of the world," Abney said in a telephone interview.

UPS is lobbying members of Congress during the summer recess to get TPP approved this year, most likely in the lame duck session after the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8.

"We believe that sometime this year would be the best chance to get this approved," Abney said. "I'm not going to say it's the only chance, but we think it’s the best chance."

He said lobbying efforts by UPS executives and other business leaders are focused on members of Congress who have not supported the deal.

"Those are the ones we are concentrating on to see ... if we can bring forth a little more support than we have today," he said.

The TPP agreement negotiated by U.S. President Barack Obama's administration would cover some 40 percent of the world's gross domestic product. The agreement's fate remains uncertain as both the Republican and Democratic nominees in the U.S. presidential campaign have criticized the proposed agreement.

Republican nominee Donald Trump has said he opposes the TPP, and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has said she will block any trade deal that threatens U.S. jobs, including the TPP.

Atlanta-based UPS has said open trade creates jobs for exporters as well as for UPS, the world's largest package delivery company. Abney said the TPP contains a chapter on small businesses, and should help smaller U.S. firms increase exports.

He said UPS also advocates public and private training programs for anyone who loses their job as a result of the TPP, to "help prepare displaced workers for 21st century jobs."

"Just because this will create jobs doesn't mean we shouldn't do things for those (who) do get affected here." he said.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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