Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told TV Tokyo in an interview on Nov. 15 that the United States will not join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) but will instead seek to form a separate, potentially “even more robust” economic framework.
Raimondo told the outlet that while the CPTPP pact “is not something that America would be part of at this time,” she said the United States is looking to form a framework with Japan and other nations that “could be even more robust in some ways than the traditional free trade agreement,” as per Nikkei Asia.
The Commerce Secretary made the remarks while on a trip to Japan, where she met with Japanese government and business leaders in Tokyo, with discussions focused on bilateral engagements, fostering ties between U.S. and Japanese private sectors, and increasing supply chain resiliency.
“During the meetings, the Secretary underscored the importance of expanding economic cooperation among like-minded partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including through the development of an Indo-Pacific economic framework to advance resilience, inclusion, sustainability, and the interests of our respective middle classes,” according to a readout of Raimondo’s visit, issued by the Commerce Department.
Raimondo and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Hagiuda Koichi, jointly announced the launch of the Japan-U.S. Commercial and Industrial Partnership, which the Commerce Department described as “a collaborative mechanism that will strengthen the competitiveness, resiliency, and security of the economies of the United States and Japan.”
“We look forward to signing an agreement with the economies in the region which is a robust economic framework,” Raimondo told TV Tokyo.
The United States withdrew from a prior iteration of the CPTPP, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), under then-President Donald Trump, who denounced the deal as a giveaway of U.S. power that, if ratified, would fuel an exodus of jobs overseas.
“We’re going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taken companies out of our country, and it’s going to be reversed,” Trump said during a meeting with union leaders at the White House in January 2017. “I think you’re going to have a lot of companies come back to our country.”
President Joe Biden has been opposed to joining the CPTPP, which currently includes 11 countries—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam—with China and Taiwan applying in September to join the pact.
Japan appears opposed to China’s admission to the CPTPP, with Japan’s economy minister stating, “Japan believes that it’s necessary to determine whether China, which submitted a request to join the TPP-11, is ready to meet its extremely high standards.”
Japan’s state minister of finance wrote on Twitter: “China is far from the free, fair, and transparent world that TPP demands such as subsidies and regulatory incentives for state-owned enterprises, request for disclosure of source code to foreign enterprises, and arbitrary operation of laws. The possibilities are endless. This [application from Beijing] seems to be an action to prevent Taiwan from joining.”
A U.S. State Department spokesperson also had a critical reaction to China’s move to join the pact, saying that the United States “would expect that China’s non-market trade practices and China’s use of economic coercion against other countries would factor into CPTPP parties’ evaluation of China as a potential candidate for accession.”