The Obama administration had negotiated a detailed trade agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But President Donald Trump, saying the TPP and similar trade deals threaten American jobs, pulled out of the agreement in his first week in office. The other countries moved forward without the United States.
The Biden administration has no plans to rejoin the trade bloc and is instead promoting the Indo-Pacific framework. Critics consider the agreement a vague alternative to TPP.
Still, the administration noted that countries involved in the framework — also including Brunei, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — account for 40% of global GDP.
“The future of the 21st century economy is going to be largely written in the Indo-Pacific," the trade office said Friday. The framework “will help to drive sustainable growth for all our economies."
The Biden administration said its trade team would also seek to promote digital trade, among other things.
USTR is handling the trade aspects of the framework. The Commerce Department is overseeing three other framework initiatives involving improving supply chains and promoting a green economy and “fair’’ growth that emphasizes the rule of law and labor rights.