By Divya Chowdhury
February 3 (Reuters) – Trade will be part of President Joe Biden’s overall negotiating policy with China, but it will not be the engine of Sino-US relations, as it was under former President Donald Trump , a former head of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said Wednesday.
“There are fundamental differences on a host of issues between the United States and China that will be difficult to resolve,” Wendy Cutler, former deputy trade representative at USTR, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum.
The Biden administration would be forced to engage in trade in the Asia-Pacific region through pacts such as the Economic Partnership for Regional Cooperation (RCEP) in Asia and China’s Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with Europe, said Cutler, who is currently vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute.
But she added that bringing the United States back into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement (NYSE 🙂 for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which had excluded China, was not the only way to forge ties in the Asia region. -Peaceful. .
The CPTPP had been the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s strategic pivot to Asia, spanning 11 Pacific countries, but Trump withdrew the United States from the pact in 2017 before it was signed.
“If the United States were to consider returning to the CPTPP, it would undoubtedly be looking for updates and revisions to the agreement, including those that best address the concerns of American workers,” added Cutler.
Cutler said closer sectoral agreements might instead offer a more viable alternative.
“They are relatively easier and faster to do and could help restore confidence and momentum while producing results.”
Cutler said the RCEP, signed between 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including China, in November 2020, must be taken seriously.
“RCEP sets broad rules of origin that will facilitate trade between (member) countries and, over time, impact supply chains,” Cutler said.
It also has an engagement structure where issues between members can be resolved, she added.
The RCEP, widely seen as a Chinese-backed alternative to the CPTPP and touted as the world‘s largest free trade agreement, aims to gradually reduce tariffs and counter protectionism, stimulate investment, and enable a freer movement of goods in the region. nL4N2I219O
Cutler said she expects the United States to help with infrastructure investment in the Asia-Pacific region, but not China-wide. (This interview was conducted in the Reuters Global Markets Forum, a chat room hosted on the Refinitiv Messenger platform. Register here to join GMF: https://refini.tv/33uoFoQ)