Biden arrives in Tokyo to bolster economic support

TOYKO — President Biden began the second chapter of his diplomatic tour of Asia on Sunday, moving from reassuring allies of the threat posed by North Korea to rallying the nations behind his administration’s new economic policy for the Indo-Pacific. .

During a three-day swing in Japan, Mr Biden will meet with a range of leaders – including those from Australia, India and Japan – as he rolls out a new economic program five years after the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the far-reaching trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP

The plan appears to be the substance of Mr Biden’s pledge to engage with allies and assert US influence in the region, while countering China. Although far less sweeping than the TPP, Biden aides said the new plan, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, will set standards for the digital economy, clean energy and the resilience of the world. supply chain.

But the lack of clarity on the economic approach to the region, an approach that Mr Biden says is a priority on his foreign policy agenda, has drawn skepticism from some allies. The administration has yet to say how many countries have signed on to the new cooperation agreement, while Beijing has stepped up criticism of the new policy.

“We expect that in addition to countries joining the launch tomorrow, more will come in the months and years to come,” Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters on Sunday. Air Force One. “This is an economic agreement focused on further integrating Indo-Pacific economies, setting standards and rules, especially in new areas like the digital economy, and also trying to ensure that there are secure and resilient supply chains.”

In Tokyo, Sullivan said Taiwan would not be among the signatories to the new deal.

Mr. Biden will have to persuade his allies to reject Beijing’s criticism and sign the plan, even if the administration is not expected to open up the U.S. market as part of the deal.

“It is going to be difficult to convince Asian governments to change the rules in a way that could disrupt their political economies without the promise of increased access to the American market,” said Aaron Connelly, researcher at the International Institute of strategic studies. in Singapore.

Mr Biden’s arrival in Tokyo comes after capping off a series of meetings with South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol. The two leaders discussed a number of economic initiatives, including strategies to tackle the shortage of semiconductors that has fueled price increases. But the threat posed by North Korea hung over the visit promoted by US officials as an effort to reassure allies that the United States remained focused on fighting China.

North Korea had yet to conduct missile tests on Sunday, despite warnings from the Biden administration that it could do so while the president was in the South. When asked on Sunday if intelligence indicated that the government in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, could still go ahead with a test, including of a nuclear missile, Mr Sullivan replied: “Oh , yes. Yes.”

But the administration is now focused on rallying allies behind Beijing’s challenge. While in Tokyo, Mr. Biden will meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Anthony Albanese, the newly elected Prime Minister of Australia, at a Quad Summit, a block formed due to increasing anxiety. on China’s military footprint in Asia and parts of the Indian Ocean. Mr. Biden called Mr. Albanese, elected on Saturday, to congratulate him.

But throughout the trip to South Korea, Mr. Biden also nodded to his domestic political priorities and woes. He visited a Samsung semiconductor factory to show his administration’s focus on chip shortages, as well as to rally Congress to pass legislation that would speed up manufacturing.

After a private mass in Seoul on Sunday morning, Biden joined Hyundai management to celebrate the company’s plan to build a new electric vehicle and battery manufacturing plant in Savannah, Georgia.

Biden said the facility would create 8,000 jobs, continuing the administration’s strategy of emphasizing job growth as Republican lawmakers step up attacks on soaring inflation. “These investments are part of a trend in my administration,” Biden said, adding that it would help the White House meet its clean energy commitments. “Manufacturing jobs are coming back to America.”

Mr Biden framed the investment following the work of his administration and Democratic Georgia Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

But days earlier, the same company had dispatched an executive to Georgia to stand with Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, to celebrate the investment. “This will continue to bring wealth and opportunity to the region,” Kemp said.

Comments are closed.