WASHINGTON (May 23, 2022) On Monday President Joe Biden announced the launch of a new trade pact with 12 Indo-Pacific nations aimed at signaling U.S. dedication to the contested economic sphere. Biden pitched the trade deal as a counterweight to China’s influence and to address the need for stability in commerce after disruptions caused by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Susan Ariel Aaronson is research professor of International Affairs and Director of the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub which aims to educate policymakers, the press and the public about domestic and international data governance issues.

In response to Biden’s announcement Professor Aaronson offered this analysis:

The U.S. is torn on what role it can play on trade. It wants to further alliances with the Indo-Pacific countries, but Congress has not granted fast-track and its clear will not support US joining CPTPP. Moreover, it is unclear if the current approach to trade agreements (limit protection, increase market access) works in a world where data drives all trade. In the positive category this deal addresses competition, is technologically neutral, and flexible. It’s not the United States imposing its standards on rest of world. But in the negative it’s hard not to ask what nations get from the framework? They are seeing no clarity, no market access, no tariff reductions.