More Work to Do After the Indo-Pacific Framework


The Biden Administration recently established the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Farmers for Free Trade held a virtual press conference discussing the framework. Former Montana Senator Max Baucus, co-chair of Farmers for Free Trade, says this was a first step in establishing the U.S. as a leader in trade in an important part of the world.

“There can be no region more important to America’s economic future and, frankly, national security and global future than the Indo-Pacific region. It’s very clear, and that’s why I’m pleased to be part of this program because it’s a message and I just want to keep pounding, the importance of that relationship. I’m glad President Biden is moving forward with the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. While this is new, this framework and much needs to be negotiated, the Biden administration, I think, should be commended for reasserting our leadership in the region.”

While it’s a good start, Baucus says it means there’s a lot of work to do. “We must do much more and lean into this agreement much more, so it doesn’t provide opportunities for more tariffs or expands market access as efficient in lots of areas. It’s critical that at least we start, at least we begin because our economic future very much depends on moving ahead with IPEF.”

He says it’s also important that the U.S. establish a “counterweight” to China in the region.

Joey Fernandes is a dairy farmer from Tulare, California. He says dairy farmers and agriculture cannot move forward and plan for the future without more trade opportunities.

“We have proven that we are a consistent, dependable, and the most sustainable supplier of dairy globally. We just need the tools, and we need the level playing field, you know, and not only to compete but to plan and budget our future. When I sit here today, and to be honest with you, as a farmer I’m pretty disappointed in the progress we’ve made in trade. And we’ve always mentioned TPP; I think of all the effort that was made by so many and how long it took and not to come to fruition is frustrating, and so I sit here cautiously optimistic.”

Maria Zeba is the Assistant Vice President of International Affairs with the National Pork Producers Council. She says more ag trade benefits pork producers as well as the overall economy.

“Over a third of the average price of a hog can be directly tied to exports, so, without those exports, we can see those prices decline. But beyond that, it’s a lifeline for the economic prosperity of rural America. Over 100,000 U.S. jobs are directly tied to U.S. pork exports. When we see the growing middle classes around the world where there is a protein shortage and a need for affordable and high-quality pork, like the one that we provide in the United States and at an affordable price, it does create that opportunity for our producers to be able to export more.”