“The United States remains fully committed to Japan’s defense, and we will face the challenges of today and the future together,” Biden said in his meeting with Kishida, their first formal face-to-face meeting.
“The purpose of the visit is to increase our cooperation with other countries in the region and provide tangible benefits to the people of the Indian Ocean region,” Biden said, thanking Kishida for joining the US-led effort to punish Russia. for its conquest of Ukraine.
Biden was greeted at Akasaka Palace with a lavish ceremony that included the playing of the national anthems and a ceremonial honor guard inspection. Biden watched his hand put it over his heart to play the Star Spangled Banner.
The economic framework comes with a similar goal. Since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the massive trade agreement negotiated during the Obama presidency — the United States has been without a concrete plan to engage this region economically.
Meanwhile, China has concluded many trade agreements with its neighbors and has sought to exercise its economic influence globally through the Belt and Road Initiative.
The plan that Biden will announce on Monday is not a trade agreement in the traditional sense. It includes one “pillar” related to trade, but also includes other areas such as making supply chains more resilient, promoting clean energy, and fighting corruption.
By revealing the framework, Biden appears to acknowledge he has little intention of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which remains unpopular among US lawmakers who will need to ratify the deal. Instead, he hopes to create an economic sphere that can rival China.
This will require persuading other countries to join in – not just loyal partners like Japan and South Korea but smaller countries, especially in Southeast Asia, who do not cooperate closely with the United States.
Early critics of the plan noted that it lacked any incentives – such as lower tariffs – in exchange for joining. Biden aides suggest that there are other ways to facilitate more trade and market access, and that the framework itself provides an attractive opportunity for participating countries to work more closely with the United States. And if anything, Biden’s announcement on Monday only reflects the beginning of the plan writing process.
Indeed, China has responded strongly to the framework, with a senior envoy describing it as a “closed and exclusive clique.”
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One while Biden was traveling from South Korea to Japan that the criticism was expected.
“It is no surprise to me that China has concerns about the number of countries, and the diversity of countries that have expressed interest and enthusiasm for IPEF,” he said. “It’s only natural that they will try to find ways to ask questions.”