Biden clings to Trump’s trade policy, preventing the US from overtaking China (NARUPAT RATTANAKIT AND IAIN MURRAY, 06/24/24, The Hill)

Not only have these tariffs failed to dent Chinese trade dominance, but they hurt the American economy by raising prices, disrupting supply chains, and inviting retaliation. The U.S. needs better trade policies to compete and succeed globally.

One enormous opportunity to restore America as the world’s biggest trade partner is to secure a deal with other Asian nations, especially in Southeast Asia, a combined emerging market projected to be the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030.

So far, the Biden administration has failed to make progress on that effort. By sidelining for domestic reasons traditional trade issues such as market access, tariff reduction and market liberalization, the Biden administration’s stalled trade pillar in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity has real limitations. This has frustrated key partners in Asia.

Launched in 2022 under the White House’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity fails to offer a broad economic plan. The framework cannot even be called a free trade agreement; instead, its four pillars are modeled after former President Trump’s restrictive U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai views as the blueprint for modern trade deals.

More than a year after its launch, an annual survey by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies reveals declining optimism about the framework among Southeast Asians, with positive sentiments dropping and uncertainties rising. Asians are concerned about the framework’s effectiveness and its failure to provide market access. The survey also highlights the frustration with the added compliance costs, necessary to adhere to the restrictive regulations, standards and agreements set forth within the framework, coupled with a lack of tangible economic benefits.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s use of export controls and tariffs are supposed to target China for its unfair trade practices, but these measures impact Southeast Asia, such as in its production of bifacial solar panels.