President Biden launched his Indo Pacific Economic Framework of the U.S. and 12 other nations during an Asia trip, as a safeguard buffer China’s growing economic influence in the region.
The Framework is Biden’s answer to the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the U.S. pulled out of, and pushback against China’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
But will the new Indo Pacific Framework be good for U.S. trade, especially agriculture? American Farm Bureau trade chief Dave Salmonsen; “Part of the emphasis we’ve seen so far in the trade part of it, will be on improving science-based standards for agricultural products. That’s always an issue with many countries in that region. That’s the thing that needs to be worked on, but we were looking for and wanted more market access, meaning talks on reducing tariffs.”
But Japan and others in the Framework complain it lacks commitments on tariffs and other requirements. Salmonsen; “What exactly will be in it. How will the goals be reached? How will it be fleshed out? I think it’s a work in progress. Hopefully more ambition can be gained, but it’s starting off and there…it is addressing issues.”
And Salmonsen says unless there are changes to US law or tariff schedules, Congress won’t have to ratify a final agreement–another ‘plus’ for the trade deal-averse administration. Salmonsen; “I’m sure Congress will be briefed. I think Congress, individual congressmen, especially the committees, Senate Finance, Ways and Means, will want to know, obviously what’s going on. I’m sure they’ll have hearings and question it, but it does…at least at the beginning, now, it doesn’t seem like it’s something that the agreements coming from this will be submitted to congressional approval.”
Other Ag groups including the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation weighed in to back the IPEF launch but want specific time frames and new market access commitments. Dozens of Hill lawmakers are urging the same.