On-the-Record Press Call Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai on the Launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

May 23, 2022

Thank you so much, Gina.  I will spend some time to talk about the trade pillar.  

From day one of his administration, President Biden has been clear that we have to rethink what trade policy can be in the 21st century and that it must benefit more people.  
For decades, trade policy was often reduced to a zero-sum game that left many of our workers behind.  And that is why we are designing trade policies that aim to deliver real economic prosperity and advance our global priorities, like combating climate change, protecting labor rights, and building resilient supply chains.  These issues are not mutually exclusive; we can and must do both.  

Over the last several months, USTR, the NSC, and the Department of Commerce have worked with our trading partners, members of Congress, and a diverse range of stakeholders on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that the President will launch tomorrow.  
At its core, the Economic Framework will link major economies and emerging ones to tackle 21st century challenges and promote fair and resilient trade for years to come.  At the same time, it will be designed to adapt to address barriers and obstacles that may arise in the future as well.  
You heard Gina describe three of the pillars.  And I'll walk through the details of the trade pillar that USTR will lead in order to create a more connected and resilient economy.  
We will work with our IPEF partners on a wide range of trade issues, including the digital economy and emerging technology, labor commitments, the environment, trade facilitation, transparency and good regulatory practices, and corporate accountability.  
The digital economy in particular best represents an area where we need to work with our IPEF partners, given the prominent role it plays in today's global marketplace and how it affects our workers, our consumers, and our businesses.  And that's why we will address issues in the digital economy that will help build connectivity and trust between key markets, including standards on cross-border data flows and data localizations.  
We will also work with our partners to address other digital concerns such as online privacy, discriminatory and unethical use of artificial intelligence.  
Collectively, the trade pillar will unlock enormous economic value, including for small- and medium-sized businesses that historically have not benefited from trade agreements as much as their large counterparts have.  
We also intend to pursue an accelerated implementation of the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will also address and improve the movement of goods across borders.  

We will seek commitments with IPEF partners that facilitate agricultural trade through science-based decision making and the adoption of sound, transparent regulatory practices.  This will help our farmers, our ranchers, and our fishers gain certainty for getting their products to the region.  
While these provisions will help promote inclusive economic prosperity, we also want this framework be part of our broader strategy to make trade a race to the top.  And that is why the IPEF will pursue an agenda for setting strong labor and environmental standards and corporate accountability provisions.  
In raising regional standards, we can set an example for the rest of the world to follow, which in turn helps all of our workers and communities.  Our aim is for the IPEF to address the challenges in the 21st century global economy.  
Tomorrow begins the next chapter of our collaboration with our key partners in the region.  
I look forward to convening our partners in the months ahead in a range of forums.  We will continue to work with stakeholders, as we have done for the last several months, to ensure a diverse range of interests and concerns are represented.  
We will work with members of Congress in both parties.  And, of course, we will make frequent trips to the Indo-Pacific to engage leaders in this region and continue our discussions to create a fairer, more resilient economy for families, workers, and business in the United States and here in the Indo-Pacific.  
This is truly a team effort.  And I'm grateful to Jake Sullivan and Secretary Raimondo for their work in bringing this framework to life.  We believe it will deliver on the President's vision of trade policy that promotes widespread economic growth and advances our shared global priorities.  And I'm excited to continue to keep all of you updated on our progress as we move forward. 
Thank you.