WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says China has made inquiries about potentially joining a Trans-Pacific trade agreement in the future. The agreement now involves the U.S. and 11 other Pacific rim countries and is the central goal of the contentious trade debate now unfolding in Congress.

Obama tells American Public Media's "Marketplace" radio show that China has "already started putting out feelers about the possibilities of them participating at some point."

Obama has often promoted the Trans-Pacific deal as a way for the U.S. to gain influence in Asian markets and to keep China "from writing the rules of the road." If China were to join the Trans-Pacific partnership, it would have to agree with the standards set by the multi-national agreement.