In South Korea, Joe Biden Seeks to Rebuild Economic Ties Across Asia

on May25
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Mr. Sullivan said there will be “a significant roster of countries” joining the framework when Mr. Biden kicks it off on Monday, but administration officials have not identified which countries. Japan, which has signaled that it would rather the United States rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will nonetheless embrace the new framework as the best it can get at the moment, as will South Korea. Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines have indicated interest in joining, while India and Indonesia have expressed some reservations.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam said this month that it was still not clear what the new framework would mean in concrete terms. “We are ready to work alongside the U.S. to discuss, to further clarify what these pillars entail,” he said at a forum held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Financial Times reported that the administration had diluted the language of the organizing statement to entice more countries to join. Some countries are concerned that the United States will force labor and environmental standards on them without the trade-offs of better trading terms, which are off the table because of liberal opposition within Mr. Biden’s party.

“There’s a reason that the original T.P.P. was derailed,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, said at a hearing last month. “It would have off-shored more jobs to countries that use child labor and prison labor and pay workers almost nothing. Let me be clear: The I.P.E.F. cannot be T.P.P. 2.0.”

Mr. Emanuel said the administration would describe the new framework process as a “consultation to negotiation,” as he put it. “We have to have an approach that respects countries where they are,” he said. “Meaning where Japan is or where Australia is, is not necessarily where Vietnam or Thailand or the Philippines are.”

Moreover, he said, the administration wanted a framework that could survive beyond Mr. Biden’s presidency, unlike the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “We have an interest in saying we are still a player in the Pacific, and China has an interest in saying the U.S. is on its way out,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Mr. Biden’s visit to the Samsung semiconductor facility immediately after disembarking from Air Force One served as a reminder of how critical the region is to his immediate priority of unsnarling the supply chain problems that have hurt American consumers back home.

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