US plans ‘coalition of democracies’ for trade but won’t join CPTPP: Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo
- Washington must ‘run faster’ to keep its allies’ confidence as China bids to join the regional trade pact, the commerce secretary tells Bloomberg New Economy Forum
- The Biden administration has no plans to join the 11-nation pact, but will instead seek a ‘proper economic framework’ to maintain a ‘secure supply chain’
While the Biden administration has no plans to join the CPTPP, it is pinning hopes on a new economic framework involving regional allies, Raimondo said in an interview with Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief John Micklethwait.
“We’re likely to launch a more formal process in the beginning of next year which will culminate in a proper economic framework,” Raimondo said, noting that this pact would among other things help the US and its allies maintain a “secure supply chain”.
Raimondo said her ongoing Asia tour was aimed at “beginning the discussions [and] laying the groundwork” for the new framework.
Asked by Micklethwait if the new framework was the “trade equivalent” of a “coalition of democracies” involving complicated alliances rather than specific trade pacts, Raimondo agreed.
She acknowledged that it was up to countries that are currently party to the CPTPP to decide whether China should be allowed into the pact.
“I will say this, China is going to do what China is going to do, and whether or not the current members of CPTPP allow China to come in, that will be as it will be,” she said. America’s alternative plan, she said, was “not about China”.
“This is about developing robust commercial and economic relationships with our partners in the Indo-Pacific where we have had robust relationships for a long time,” she said.
“The elephant in the room, the reality is America… has been largely absent in the past few years, and when I am here in the region there seems to be a strong pull to have us back.”
The current administration was focused on creating good jobs at home but “we are equally focused on re-strengthening our relationships with our allies – in Europe, in the Indo-Pacific and around the world,” Raimondo said.
“We’re talking about onshoring but we’re also talking about friendshoring.”
She added: “Take semiconductors – it is a global, complex supply chain. That won’t change and that is OK. We don’t think everything can be domestically produced so we want to work with our allies and friendshore.”
CPTPP could become game changer and supplant 'out-of-date' WTO, after mainland China, Taiwan apply
The commerce secretary, who spoke after the Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan addressed the forum by video link, was also asked whether Beijing was “taking up the banner of multilateralism” while the US – with its aversion to multilateral trade pacts – was pursuing “à la carte” style deals.
Raimondo said the US had to “kind of run faster” in the face of China’s push to champion multilateralism.
“We have our strategy… America is a fantastic, and benign and collaborative ally and partner. We have some of the best entrepreneurs, the deepest capital markets in the world and a long history of working in this region,” she said.
“So we’re going to do what we know how to do and China will do what it’s going to do.”
Speakers, some of whom participated via video link, included the US elder statesman Henry Kissinger and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai.
Billed as an Asia-and-Africa-focused rival of sorts to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, the Bloomberg New Economy Forum is being held in Singapore for the second time since the inaugural edition was held in the city state in 2018.