In a statement on Tuesday at the Pacific Rim Leaders Summit APEC, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo disclosed that three out of the four “pillars” of the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) talks have been successfully concluded. However, the fourth pillar, focusing on trade, remains a significant hurdle, dealing a blow to the administration’s ambitions of declaring substantial progress during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
The lack of consensus on trade comes at a crucial juncture as President Biden prepares for a vital meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The aim of the talks is to address and alleviate tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Raimondo expressed gratitude for the support of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, acknowledging the successful conclusion of three pillars during the ministerial meeting. However, she highlighted the challenges in trade discussions, marking a setback for the Biden administration.
Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yoko Kamikawa, addressed the broader global issues faced by the international community, including the protracted aggression of Russia in Ukraine, supply chain vulnerabilities, and the global energy and food crisis. Despite these challenges, she emphasized the steady progress in partnerships between like-minded countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored the commitment of the United States and Japan to advance a rules-based economic order, counter-economic coercion, and promote innovation. He emphasized the global nature of the alliance, stating that it is not just bilateral or regional but genuinely global, contributing to a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Nishimura Yasutoshi highlighted the emerging challenges of Russia’s aggression and geopolitical tensions, emphasizing the need for a new approach to address market-distorting measures and attempts to enhance competitiveness in unfair ways.
As the trade discussions pose a significant challenge, the Biden administration faces a complex diplomatic landscape in the Indo-Pacific region, impacting its efforts to strengthen economic ties and address geopolitical risks. The outcome of the forthcoming meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping adds an additional layer of importance to resolving trade issues for the world’s economic powerhouses.