SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 16 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday he would continue to work to advance the Pacific trade pact as his vision for a regional deal to counter China’s influence falters in an effort to strengthen workers’ rights.
“Our work is not done,” he told corporate CEOs in San Francisco attending a summit of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
“We will continue to work to facilitate high-quality trade that promotes workers’ rights through stronger enforcement of labor standards.”
On Thursday, Biden was scheduled to attend an event on the 14-nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) founded by his administration.
Hopes for an IPEF trade deal were dashed this week. Members could not agree on improving labor and environmental standards or compliance, people explained in the talks.
US Deputy Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi told Reuters on Thursday that the US and its Indo-Pacific partners should regroup and “recalibrate” their trade pillar negotiations early next year.
Asked how long it would take to finalize an IPEF trade deal, an administration official said most negotiations take years, but the White House wants to work on an “accelerated timeline.”
The White House launched the IPEF to boost economic engagement with Asia after former President Donald Trump left the regional trade pact in 2017. Biden, a Democrat, could face Republican Trump again in next year’s presidential election, which could hurt US support. of multilateral groups like APEC or IMF and trade policy.
After a day of meetings, Biden said the leaders signed a supply chain agreement to identify bottlenecks before problems like the peak of the Covid pandemic occur. He said they have concluded agreements to accelerate clean energy transitions and an agreement to fight corruption.
He also said an “investment accelerator” was launched to bring in private capital to invest in clean energy and technology.
“Government investment is not enough,” he said. Mobilize private investment.
American investment in Asia
Ahead of the APEC summit, Biden on Thursday touted investments in the region by U.S. companies such as Amazon.com ( AMZN.O ), Delta Air Lines ( DAL.N ), PepsiCo ( PEP.O ), Apple ( AAPL.O ) and Boeing. . (BA.N)
He argued that America’s continued economic growth would energize the entire world, which was challenged by a sluggish global economy.
The International Monetary Fund last month cut its growth forecasts for China, saying overall global growth was low and uneven despite what it called the “significant strength” of the US economy. It predicts real global GDP growth of 3.0% in 2023.
Biden said 60% of U.S. exports went to APEC countries, and U.S. businesses were the largest source of foreign direct investment in those economies, contributing at least $40 billion by 2023.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said earlier Thursday that IPEF countries had agreed to several “pillars” of the trade initiative, including cooperation on clean energy and anti-corruption measures. Ministers also formally signed a previously agreed text on the third pillar, which covers supply chain resilience.
The US-backed effort isn’t 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 meeting if they could meet its standards.
An earlier version of that trade group was scrapped by Trump, and under Biden, free trade deals have been put on the back burner amid pressure from labor groups.
APEC members are closely watching developments between the world’s two largest economies and strategic rivals, the United States and China.
Biden, who held a high-level summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday aimed at stabilizing strained relations, said a stable relationship between the US and China is good for the world.
He said he told Xi that he views the US as “a Pacific country” that will continue to engage in the region. Biden said the U.S. is not delinking its economy from China, but is “de-risking and diversifying.”
“A stable relationship between the world’s two largest economies is good not just for those two economies, but for the world,” Biden said to applause. “It’s good for everyone.”
Richard Adkerson, chief executive of Freeport-McMoRan Inc ( FCX.N ), a miner with operations in Peru and Indonesia, said he was “encouraged” by signs of improving relations between China and the United States, including a meeting between the presidents.
“Whether it’s a watershed moment or not, we’ll have to wait and see,” 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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