President Joe Biden on Monday launched a new trade deal with 12 Indo-Pacific nations aimed at strengthening their economies as he warned Americans worried about high inflation that it was “going to be a haul” before they feel relief. The president said he does not believe an economic recession is inevitable in the U.S.
Biden, speaking at a news conference after holding talks with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, acknowledged the U.S. economy has “problems” but said they were “less consequential than the rest of the world has.”
He added: “This is going to be a haul. This is going to take some time,” even as he rejected the idea a recession in the U.S. was inevitable.
The comments came just before Biden’s launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a new trade deal his administration designed to signal U.S. dedication to the contested economic sphere and to address the need for stability in commerce after disruptions caused by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Nations joining the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Along with the United States, they represent 40% of world GDP.
The countries said in a joint statement that the pact will help them collectively “prepare our economies for the future” following disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Biden and Kishida were joined by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while representatives from the other countries appeared by video to help launch the pact. Modi was in Tokyo for Tuesday’s meeting of the Quad, a security grouping that also includes the U.S., Japan and Australia.
The White House said the framework will help the United States and Asian economies work more closely on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, worker protections and anticorruption efforts. The details still need to be negotiated among the member countries, making it difficult for the administration to say how this agreement would fulfill the promise of helping U.S. workers and businesses while also meeting global needs.