Reuters: U.S., Indo-Pacific countries launch new-generation trade talks shunning tariff cuts

September 8, 2022 Media

Economic ministers from the United States and 13 Indo-Pacific countries launch negotiations on Thursday on Washington’s first major pan-Asian trade engagement effort in nearly a decade, but this time any deal won’t cut tariffs.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework talks in Los Angeles will seek to define a sweeping platform for market-driven economies to engage on trade and data flows, environmental and labor standards, supply chains and anti-corruption efforts.

Lori Wallach, head of Rethink Trade, a group advocating against corporate influence in trade policy, applauded the decision not to offer tariff cuts, but questioned whether it could deliver benefits for workers.

“Three decades of ‘hyperglobalization’ implemented by these deals already had made the old trade model politically toxic,” Wallach said in a statement. “Then the COVID-revealed supply chain crisis fueled even broader demand for a new approach that reverses the concentration of production of goods and services on which we all rely in too firms in too few countries.”