Trade Rep Tai says US not looking to ‘decouple’ from China
Tokyo, Apr 20 (EFE).- The United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Thursday that momentum was growing around negotiations for a US-led Indo-Pacific trade pact but said that its objective was not to “decouple” China from the US or global trade.
“That is not the intention..to decouple (China),” Tai said at a press conference held at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan as part of a two-day visit to the Japanese capital, Tokyo.
“China has a very, very large footprint in global trade and economics. The challenge for us is to figure out how to level the playing field in trade, how to identify the challenges that we are facing with respect to that enormous footprint that China has and China’s particular set of economic policies and practices. And to figure out how we can defend ourselves, defend our opportunities to continue to compete and to thrive to grow our economies given a set of policies that have put a lot of pressure on our market based system,” she added.
When asked about the progress of negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), the US official said there was a lot of “momentum” around the talks.
“I’m very optimistic that we will see results soon and even over the course of this year,” she said.
The IPEF was launched in 2022 by the US as a multilateral initiative accounting for around 40 percent of world GDP.
It is seen as an alternative to other agreements, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The CPTPP, which spans a market of almost 500 million people and accounts for 13 percent of global GDP making it one of the largest free trade agreements in the world, was abandoned by former US President Donald Trump.
When asked about the US’ possible return to the pact, Tai remained non-committal.
“We know the contents of the CPTPP well from our own negotiations back in the day and we remain very close with our partners, who are members of the CPTPP. So yes, when we are working on our economic relationship and building our economic foundations in this region, we do talk about updates with respect to the CPTPP, including new entrants…the United States is not one of them,” she said.
Although the US has wooed a majority of the ASEAN countries to the IPEF, many observers point out that a lack of concrete measures – and in particular of tariff advantages – has reduced the attractiveness of the project and raised doubts among its members.
Japan has backed the US-led project while also urging the North American country to rejoin the CPTPP. EFE