What They Are Reading: Ambassador Katherine Tai Strengthens U.S. Trade Relationship with Key Indo-Pacific Partners

April 20, 2023

WASHINGTON – This week, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai traveled to Manila and Tokyo to underscore the Biden Administration’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.  During her meetings with government officials and stakeholders, Ambassador Tai stressed the need for the United States to work with the Philippines, Japan, and partners throughout the region to build resilient supply chains, tackle pressing issues like the climate crisis, and deliver high-standard trade provisions in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Read more from Ambassador Tai’s trip below.
Philippine Star: US trade chief discuss labor standards, trade opportunities
The US trade chief also emphasized the importance of trade relations between the two countries, with the US-Philippines Trade and Investment Framework being the first in Southeast Asia. The US is a major trading partner of the Philippines, with over $18.9 billion in goods and services traded in 2020.
Associated Press: US trade rep seeks close economic security ties in Asia
Tai met with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to discuss making supply chains more resilient and secure, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement…But the U.S. has stepped up diplomacy across the region, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken stopping over the weekend in Vietnam, which Washington sees as a key component of its strategy for the region given the country’s traditional rivalry with its much larger neighbor China…Japan and the United States have set up a taskforce that aims to eliminate human rights violations in international supply chains and to ban use of materials from suppliers that subject their workers to inhumane conditions.

ReutersUSTR's Tai: Indo-Pacific trade talks could see results this year
…"I don't have a crystal ball ... but it is absolutely in the spirit of the IPEF to be able to demonstrate that we can deliver real outcomes as we go, and not have to wait several years to realize an outcome," Tai told a Tokyo news conference. "I'm very optimistic that you will see results soon and maybe even over the course of this year.”
Bloomberg: Results of Indo-Pacific Trade Talks Likely This Year, Tai Says
Negotiations over a US-led Indo-Pacific trade pact are likely to yield results this year, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said. 
Momentum is growing for the 14-nation economic initiative known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, with the next round of talks set in Singapore in May, Tai said Thursday at a press conference in Tokyo. 

Associated Press: Trade envoy Tai says US not seeking to ‘decouple’ from China
…Tai, who is on her fourth visit to Japan after being appointed the top U.S. trade envoy, said all members of President Joe Biden’s administration have been “very clear that it is not the intention to decouple” China’s economy…Given its huge size and importance, unraveling the ties with China that keep the world economy running is “not a goal or achievable,” Tai said in a news conference at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan…“We have all experienced the fragility of our dispersed supply chains in recent years, especially through the pandemic and Russia’s brutal, unjustified attack on Ukraine. And we’ve become too reliant, we have discovered, on certain countries for the supply of critical minerals needed to fuel our clean energy future,” Tai said…

NHK-World JapanTop Japanese, US trade officials discuss EV tax breaks

Japan's industry minister Nishimura Yasutoshi has called on his US counterpart to offer US consumers tax breaks for electric vehicles made by Japanese automakers…The revised measures put Japanese and many other non-US car manufacturers at a disadvantage, as models of US automakers dominate the list…The two signed a memorandum stating that EVs assembled in the United States that use materials that have been processed in Japan will also be eligible for tax breaks…Nishimura told reporters that Japan had seized every opportunity to call on the US to review its policy so it is consistent with the bilateral strategy to strengthen supply chains, and he did just that during his talks with Tai.

Manila Bulletin: Zubiri meets US trade representative

and Tai discussed a wide range of issues which include the transition to clean and green economy, digital economy, decarbonization of infrastructure, trade-facilitation, supply chain, sound labor practices, sustainable agricultural practices, and making jurisdictions more attractive to businesses and investments…

Kyodo NewsKyodo News Digest: April 20, 2023
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Thursday Indo-Pacific Economic Framework trade negotiations could deliver results by the end of the year to set economic rules and standards in the fast-growing region. The U.S.-led initiative comprising 14 nations is widely viewed as a counterweight to China's growing clout in the Indo-Pacific region, which accounts for about 40 percent of the global economy…

Tokyo World Business SatelliteUSTR Tai discusses Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
The program said USTR Tai hinted that the IPEF will be concluded by the end of this year, showing her saying: “We have made a lot of progress…. By the end of this year, I am confident that in all four pillars, we will have results to show each other and to the rest of the world.” “In terms of Japan’s role, it’s really been an invaluable one … in terms of demonstrating partnership in building relationships and building a solid foundation for the United States to remain engaged economically in this region,” USTR Tai said.

Asahi Shimbun: Top U.S. Commerce Department Appears in Shibuya's Patagonia for 'Human Rights Emphasis' Appeal
…Katherine Tai, representative of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), who is visiting Japan, visited Patagonia's Shibuya store in Tokyo on the 19th. Patagonia launches a management policy that emphasizes human rights and the environment. Ms. Tai said, "In production all over the world, the lives and rights of workers, the environment and climate change" We want to create a competitive system that will improve the livelihoods and rights of workers and impact on the environment and climate…The Biden administration is committed to preventing the distribution of products involving forced or child labor. In January, the governments of Japan and the United States agreed to establish a working group of relevant ministries to prevent the cross-border distribution of products involving forced or child labor. "By May, I think the US and Japanese teams will meet to work out the details of the joint work," Tai said… Philippine labor leaders meet US trade representative Katherine Tai on promoting workers’ rights towards worker-centered trade

Ambassador Tai underscored the need for enhanced tripartism whereby the Government, employers, and workers come together and urgently address these problems afflicting the Philippine labor movement…The Philippine labor movement looks forward to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s firm commitment to upholding fundamental labor rights, ensuring core labor standards, and safeguarding the dignity of each and every worker towards bringing about inclusive and sustainable trade and growth in the Philippines, in the Indo-Pacific region, and for our respective peoples.
Kyodo News: Japan, U.S. affirm stronger ties in Indo-Pacific trade negotiations
Japan's trade minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and his U.S. counterpart Katherine Tai affirmed Wednesday further cooperation in advancing negotiations of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework to set high trade standards amid concerns over China's growing clout. "I hope that Japan and the United States will lead efforts to build resilient supply chains among like-minded nations, who share the fundamental value of freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law," Nishimura said at the outset of the meeting in Tokyo.