US Needs to Set Rules Rather Than Have China Dictate Global Trade, Biden Says

President-elect Joe Biden has plans for US trade on the international stage, but is unable to reveal his thinking until he takes office in January 2021.

Asked about whether the US should join the newly created free trade block the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, Biden said he has spoken to many world leaders about international trade but is constrained by US law to not be able go into details with them or publicly.

“There’s only one president at a time as to who can say what our policy will be, ” he said.

But Biden added: “We make up 25% of the world’s trading capacity of the economy in the world, we need to be aligned with the other democracies another 25% or more.”

He told reporters Monday, the US needed to be involved, “so that we can set the rules of the road instead of having China and others dictate outcomes because they are the only game in town.”

Signed on Sunday by China and 14 other Asian Pacific countries, setting up the world’s largest trading bloc, the RCEP encompasses nearly a third of all economic activity, in a deal many in Asia are hoping will help hasten a recovery from the shocks of the pandemic.

The accord will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time, and is less comprehensive than an 11-nation trans-Pacific trade deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office.

Apart from the 10 ASEAN members, it includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States.

Officials said the accord leaves the door open for India, which dropped out due to fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, to rejoin the bloc.

Lillian Jijingi/Agency Reports

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