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New Balance under fire after voicing support for Donald Trump

Trump's victory in the Presidential election will likely see an end to Obama's TPP agreement

New Balance has come under widespread criticism after it expressed support for president-elect Donald Trump for his stance on Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

The US shoemaker's vice president of public affairs, Matt LeBretton, sparked the controversy in a statement to The Wall Street Journal when commenting on the future of the TPP deal.

The agreement, which has yet to be ratified by congress, is intended to boost growth and deepen economic ties between the US and its allies by slashing tariffs and fostering trade. However, critics claim that the 12-country pact, which includes Japan, Singapore and Australia, is a gambit to keep China at bay and poses a threat to worker's rights and the environment.

LeBretton placed New Balance under fire when he said: "Frankly with President-Elect Trump we feel things are going to move in the right direction."

"We swallowed the poison pill that is TPP so we could have a chance to bid on these contracts," LeBretton wrote.

"We were assured this would be a top-down approach at the Department of Defense if we agreed to either support or remain neutral on TPP. [But] the chances of the Department of Defense buying shoes that are made in the USA are slim to none while Obama is president."

Following his comments, consumers of the brand began criticising the support for Trump, with some posting images of social of them burning or throwing out their sneakers.

LeBretton later clarified his comments to BuzzFeed: "The statement is correct in the context of trade, not talking about large geo-political anything, but in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement."

In a speech which Trump made in October, he called the TPP deal "defective" and said it would be "unwound so fast".

Many US brands whose products are made abroad have thrown their support behind the TPP because it would reduced tariffs on many materials and goods that they source from overseas. President Obama even used Nike’s Oregon headquarters as backdrop for a speech defending his trade policy.

New Balance however still manufactures its products in the US and has openly opposed the deal for years.

Following the backlash from LeBretton's comments New Balance released a statement saying: "As the only major company that still makes athletic shoes in the United States, New Balance has a unique perspective on trade and trade policy in that we want to make more shoes in the United States, not less."

The company added: "New Balance publicly supported the trade positions of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump prior to Election Day that focused on American manufacturing job creation, and we continue to support them today."

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