SYDNEY AND KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 (IPS) — Long viewed as a vehicle for gain under the guise of mutual benefit, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) may increasingly be used as economic weapons in the emerging new Cold War.
Pivot to Asia containing China
In November 2009, President Obama observable“in an interconnected world, power should not be a zero-sum game… The United States does not seek to contain China.”
His US Trade Representative (USTR) stated that the TPP was based on principles advocated by the US, such as protecting intellectual property (IP) and human rights. While arguing that all who accept its principles can join, China was clearly not among the countries negotiating the TPP.
For Washington, this new rivalry with China has to do with strengthening US alliances with Japan, South Korea, and Australia. In October 2011, the US Congress ratified the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).
Since the military and economic deterrence of China is central to US security strategy, the TPP was negotiated in 2015. Obama underlined“TPP allows America, not countries like China, to write the rules of the road for the 21st century.”
The creation of a “club for all but China” was USA motif for the construction of a thermal power plant. But with the change in public sentiment since the Trump presidency, the once Obama-loyal vice president, now President Biden has not attempted to revive the TPP either during his presidential campaign or since.
“American prosperity and security are threatened by economic competition played out in a broader strategic context…We must work with like-minded people and partners to ensure that our principles prevail and the rules apply to keep our economy prospering,” President Trump said. national security strategy.
By 2020, the leaders of all four countries have become more unanimous in their concerns about the rise of China. In November 2020, the navies of all four countries took part in their first joint military exercise in over a decade.
Meanwhile, under Shinzo Abe, Japan radically transformed your security policy. Abe has greatly expanded the role, mission, and capabilities of the Japan Self-Defense Forces within and outside the US-Japan alliance, especially in East Asia.
“Cooperation in the field of defense” has also been expanded through cross-country agreements such as the recent Mutual Access Agreement between Japan and Australia same as before Japan-India Acquisition and Cross-Service Agreement.
The US security profile in the region has been strengthened by the AUKUS (Australia-UK-USA) alliance. His clear intention is to strengthen the military presence of the United States and its allies in the Indo-Pacific region with the greatest “Chinese accent” of all regional security mechanisms.
The US also links trade to its national security strategy, especially to contain China in Africa and Latin America. How USTR notes“The Biden administration is conducting a comprehensive review of US trade policy towards China as part of the development of its overall China strategy.”
Her office also emphasizes: “Solving the China problem will require a comprehensive strategy and a more systematic approach than the piecemeal approach of the recent past.”
reflecting it Interim Strategic National Security GuideBiden emphasizes: “The United States must restore its enduring advantages…; modernize our military capabilities…; and revitalize America’s unrivaled network of alliances and partnerships.” He notes that “the growing rivalry with China, Russia … is changing every aspect of our lives.”
Biden insists that his administration “will make sure that the rules of the international economy are not directed against the United States.” We will enforce existing trade rules and create new ones… This agenda will strengthen our enduring advantage and enable us to win the strategic competition with China or any other country.”
His administration has announced a review of all Trump-era trade negotiations. President Clinton’s term ends in 2025. African Growth and Opportunity Act since 2000 offers extended access to the US market to eligible African countries.
In April 2021 Secretary of State Anthony Blinken confirmed Negotiations on an FTA between the US and Kenya will resume. Observers believe The US-Kenya Free Trade Agreement, initiated by Trump in 2020, will help expand US trade and security policies on the “carrot and stick” principle on the continent to counter China.
IN THE USA ‘Monroe Doctrine in the backyard,” six US free trade agreements already include 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. On June 8, Biden announced a new regional economic partnership to counter China. His speech opened the summit of the Americas, criticized to exclude countries considered friendly to China.
But Biden American Partnership for Economic Prosperity is still regarded as work in progress. Even without offering standard tariff breaks under free trade agreements, the US expects to initially focus on “like-minded partners.” While Biden hailed his “pioneering integrated new approach,” responses suggest “weakening” US influence.
Now, five years after Trump pulled out of the TPP, Biden has revived Obama’s China strategy with his own Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Smug, he couldn’t help echoing Obama’s TPP boast.”We’re writing new rules“.
UN IPS Bureau
© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedSource: Inter Press Service