Biden announces new trade framework for Asia

Biden announces new trade framework for Asia

TOKYO: President Joe Biden faced a dilemma on trade in Asia: he couldn't join the Trans-Pacific Partnership that his predecessor had pulled the US out of in 2017.

Many related trade deals, regardless of their content, had become politically toxic for US voters, who associated them with job losses.

Biden came up with a replacement. During Biden's visit to Tokyo, the US on Monday planned to announce the countries that are joining the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. It's best known by its initials, IPEF, in the tradition of trade deals.

That is still to be figured out. Monday's announcement signals the start of talks among participating countries to decide what will ultimately be in the framework, so the descriptions for now are largely aspirational. In a general sense, it is a way for the US to lay down a marker signaling its commitment to remain a leading force in Asia.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that IPEF is focused on the integration of Indo-Pacific economies, setting standards and rules, particularly in new areas like the digital economy, and also trying to make sure there are secure and resilient supply chains. The idea of new standards for world trade isn't just about discontent among US voters. It's a recognition of how the pandemic disrupted the entire scope of supply chains, shuttered factories, delaying cargo ships, clogging ports, and causing higher inflation globally. In late February, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, which caused dangerously high jumps in food and energy costs in parts of the world.