SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday he would continue working to push for a Pacific trade pact, even as his vision for a regional deal to counter China’s influence stumbled. attempt to strengthen workers’ rights.
“Our work is not done yet,” Biden told corporate CEOs in San Francisco, where he attended a summit of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
“We will continue to work to better facilitate high-level trade that promotes workers’ rights through strict enforcement of labor standards.”
Biden was also scheduled to participate on Thursday in an event of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a group of 14 nations established by his administration.
Hopes for a trade deal with IPEF were dashed this week. Members could not agree on improving labor and environmental standards or enforcing them, people briefed on the talks said.
The United States and its Indo-Pacific partners need to regroup and “recalibrate” their negotiations on the trade pillar early next year, Deputy US Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi told Reuters on Thursday.
Asked how long it could take to conclude an IPEF trade deal, an administration official said most negotiations take years, but that the White House intended to work on an “accelerated timeline.”
The White House launched the IPEF to bolster economic engagement with Asia after former President Donald Trump abandoned a regional trade pact in 2017. Biden, a Democrat, could face Republican Trump again in next year’s presidential election, a confrontation that could affect US support. of multilateral groups such as APEC or the IMF and trade policy.
After a day of meetings, Biden said leaders signed a supply chain agreement to identify bottlenecks before problems arise, such as during the height of the COVID pandemic. He also said they concluded agreements to accelerate transitions to clean energy, as well as an agreement to combat corruption.
He also touted the launch of an “investment accelerator” to attract private capital for clean energy and technology investments.
“Government investment is not enough,” he said. “We need to mobilize private investment.”
US INVESTMENT IN ASIA
Ahead of the APEC summit, Biden on Thursday touted investments by US companies in the region, including Amazon.com (AMZN.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), PepsiCo (PEP.O), Apple (AAPL. O) and Boeing. . (PROHIBITION)
He argued that continued U.S. economic growth would boost the entire world, an assessment challenged by the sluggish global economy.
The International Monetary Fund last month cut its growth forecasts for China and said overall global growth remained low and uneven despite what it called the “remarkable strength” of the U.S. economy. It projects real global GDP growth of 3.0% by 2023.
Biden said that 60% of US exports went to APEC countries, and that US companies were the largest source of foreign direct investment in those economies, committing at least $40 billion in 2023.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said earlier on Thursday that IPEF countries had agreed on several “pillars” of the trade initiative, covering cooperation on clean energy and anti-corruption measures. Ministers also formally signed previously agreed text on a third pillar, covering supply chain resilience.
The US-backed initiative is not the only game in town. Trade ministers from the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership countries on Wednesday welcomed more members to the bloc if they can meet their standards.
Trump abandoned an earlier version of that trade bloc, and under Biden, free trade agreements have taken a backseat amid pressure from labor groups.
APEC members have been closely watching developments between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies and strategic rivals, concerned that intensifying competition could disrupt global trade and security.
Biden, who on Wednesday held a high-stakes summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at stabilizing strained relations, said a stable U.S.-China relationship was good for the world.
He said he told Xi that he considered the United States “a Pacific nation” that will remain committed to the region. Biden said the United States was not decoupling its economy from China, but rather “de-risking and diversifying.”
“A stable relationship between the world’s two largest economies is not only good for those two economies but for the world,” Biden said to applause. “It’s good for everyone.”
Richard Adkerson, chief executive of mining company Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX.N), with operations in Peru and Indonesia, said he was “encouraged” by signs of improving relations between China and the United States, including the meeting of presidents.
“We have to wait and see if it’s a turning point or not,” he said.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, David Brunnstrom, Nandita Bose, Ann Saphir, Katharine Jackson, Andrea Shalal, and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates
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