At APEC, Biden touts workers’ rights, stable China relationship

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 16 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday he would continue to work to make progress on a Pacific trade pact, even as his vision for a regional agreement to counter China’s influence stumbled in his attempt to strengthen workers’ rights.

“Our work is not done yet,” Biden told corporate executives in San Francisco, where he was attending a summit of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

“We will continue to work to better facilitate high-standard trade that improves workers’ rights through rigorous enforcement of labor standards.”

Biden was also scheduled to participate Thursday in an event for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a 14-nation group created 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 briefed on the talks said.

The United States and its Indo-Pacific partners should 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 an IPEF trade agreement could take, an administration official said most negotiations take years, but the White House intends to work on an “accelerated timeline.”

The White House launched the IPEF to boost economic engagement with Asia after former President Donald Trump left a regional trade pact in 2017. Biden, a Democrat, could face Republican Trump again in next year’s presidential election, a face-off that could to influence US support for multilateral groups such as APEC or the IMF and trade policy.

After a day of meetings, Biden said the 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 had concluded agreements to accelerate the transition to clean energy, as well as an anti-corruption agreement.

He also touted the launch of an “investment accelerator” to attract private capital to invest in clean energy and technology.

“Government investment is not enough,” he said. “We need to mobilize private investment.


Ahead of the ATIS summit, Biden on Thursday touted investments from U.S. companies in the region, including ( AMZN.O ), Delta Air Lines ( DAL.N ), PepsiCo ( PEP.O ), Apple ( AAPL.O ) and Boeing. (BA.N)

He argued that continued U.S. economic growth would help the entire world, an assessment prompted by a 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 US economy. It projects real global GDP growth of 3.0% in 2023.

Biden said 60 percent of U.S. exports go to ATIS countries, and U.S. businesses are the largest source of foreign direct investment in those economies, investing at least $40 billion in 2023.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said earlier 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 a pre-agreed text on a third pillar covering supply chain sustainability.

The US-backed initiative 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 bloc if they could meet its standards.

An earlier version of that trade bloc was abandoned by Trump, and under Biden, free trade agreements were put on the back burner amid pressure from labor groups.

APEC members are closely monitoring developments between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies and strategic rivals, concerned that increasingly intense competition could upset global trade and security.

Biden, who held a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday aimed at stabilizing strained relations, said a stable US-China relationship is good for the world.

He said he told Xi that he considered the United States a “Pacific nation” that would remain engaged in the region. Biden said the United States is not separating its economy from China, but “de-risking and diversifying.”

“A stable relationship between the two largest economies in the world is not only good for these two economies, but good for the world,” Biden said to applause. “It’s good for everyone.”

Richard Adkerson, chief executive of miner 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 the presidents.

“We have to wait and see if this is a watershed moment or not,” he said.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, David Brunnstrom, Nandita Bose, Anne Safir, Kathryn Jackson, Andrea Shallal and Doina Chiaku; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Acquisition of license rightsopens a new tab

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *