President-elect Joe Biden said that the United States needs to hold talks with its allies to set global trade rules to counter China’s growing influence. However, Joe Biden declined to say whether he would join the new China-backed Asian trade Pact signed on Sunday.
Asked at a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware, whether the United States would join the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, Biden said he could not discuss US trade policy yet because he had not taken office.
“The United States makes up 25% of the world economy,” Biden said. “We need to coordinate our actions with other democratic countries, with the other 25%, so that we can set the rules instead of China and others dictating them.”
The signing of the RCEP at the regional summit in Hanoi creates the largest trade agreement globally, covering 30% of the world economy and 30% of the world population, bringing together the Asian powers, China, Japan, and South Korea for the first time.
It also marks another setback for the US in the region after President Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement with 12 countries in 2017, concluded while Biden was Vice President.
Biden said he has a detailed trade plan that he will discuss on January 21, 2021, after he takes office as President.
While TPP members, including Japan, and many free-trade advocates have expressed hope that Biden will re-join the trade Pact, he has said little about it, and advisers have said Biden will not immediately lift duties on Chinese goods.
The President-elect said he told leaders that the US approach to trade would be based on “investing in American workers to make them more competitive.”