Biden will present in Japan who will join the new trade pact with Asia

TOKYO (AP) — President Joe Biden will launch a new Indo-Pacific trade pact on Monday designed to signal America’s dedication to the region and address the need for stability in trade after the chaos caused by the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The White House says the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework will help the US and Asian economies work more closely on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, worker protection and anti-corruption efforts. Details still need to be negotiated among member countries, making it difficult for the administration to say how this framework can deliver on the promise of helping American workers and businesses while meeting global needs.

The countries that will sign the framework will be announced Monday during Biden’s visit to Tokyo for talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. It is the latest step by the Biden administration to try to preserve and expand US influence in a region that until recently appeared to be under increasing Chinese domination.

Biden is in the midst of a five-day visit to South Korea and Japan, the first Asia trip of his presidency, which ends Tuesday. The White House announced plans to build the economic framework in October as a replacement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the United States abandoned in 2017 under then-President Donald Trump.

The new pact comes at a time when the administration believes it has the upper hand in its competition with Beijing. Bloomberg Economics published a report last week that projected US GDP growth of about 2.8% in 2022, compared to 2% for China, which has been trying to contain the coronavirus through lockdowns. strict and at the same time dealing with a real estate bankruptcy. The slowdown has undermined assumptions that China would automatically supplant the US as the world’s leading economy.

“The fact that the United States is growing faster than China this year, for the first time since 1976, is a pretty amazing example of how countries in this region should look at the question of trends and trajectories,” said the homeland security of the White House. advisor Jake Sullivan.

Critics say the framework has huge shortcomings. It does not provide incentives to potential partners by lowering tariffs, nor does it give signatories greater access to US markets. Those limitations may not make the US framework an attractive alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which continued to advance after the US bailout. China, the largest trading partner for many in the region, is also seeking to join. to the TPP.

“I think a lot of partners will look at that list and say, ‘That’s a good list of issues. I’m happy to participate,’” said Matthew Goodman, a former director of international economics at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama. But he said they can also ask, “Are we going to get any tangible benefit from participating in this framework?”

Countries may be party to both trade agreements.

Biden’s first stop on Monday was a private meeting with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito at Naruhito’s residence on the lush grounds of the Imperial Palace before diving into extensive talks with Kishida on trade, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the nuclear threat from North Korea, the two countries. COVID-19 responses and more.

Kishida and Biden will also meet with families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea decades ago. The Japanese prime minister took office last fall and is seeking to strengthen ties with the US and build a personal relationship with Biden. He will receive the president in a restaurant for dinner.

The launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, also known as IPEF, has been heralded by the White House as one of the highlights of Biden’s trip to Asia and of his ongoing effort to strengthen ties with Pacific allies. Regardless, administration officials have closely watched China’s growing economic and military power in the region.

In September, the US announced a new partnership with Australia and Britain called AUKUS that aims to deepen diplomatic, security and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Through that AUKUS partnership, Australia will purchase nuclear-powered submarines, and the US will increase rotational force deployments to Australia.

The US president has also paid close attention to the informal alliance known as the Quad, formed during the response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000 people. Biden and other leaders of the alliance, which also includes Australia, India and Japan, will meet in Tokyo for their second in-person meeting in less than a year. The leaders have also held two video calls since Biden took office.

And earlier this month, Biden brought together representatives from nine of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington for a summit, the organization’s first in the US capital. Biden announced at the summit that the US would invest some $150 million in clean energy and infrastructure initiatives in ASEAN countries.

Sullivan confirmed on Sunday that Taiwan, which had sought membership under the IPEF, is not among the governments to be included. The involvement of the autonomous island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own, would have rankled Beijing.

Sullivan said the US wants to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high-tech issues and one-to-one semiconductor supply.

Biden will wrap up his five days in Asia on Tuesday with the Quad meeting and one-on-one talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and newly elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The center-left leader of the Australian Labor Party defeated incumbent Scott Morrison this weekend, ending nine years of Conservative rule.

Modi, leader of the world’s largest democracy, has refused to join the United States and other allies in imposing sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. In a video call last month, Biden asked Modi not to speed up his purchase of Russian oil.

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