The U.S. and Japan on Wednesday announced a trade agreement aimed at deepening "the cooperation" between the two countries just a day after President Biden held a video conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Top U.S. trade officials met with their Japanese counterparts this week as part of Biden’s effort to work closer to nations in the region to counter China’s economic influence, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Wendy Cutler, the vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute, told the paper that the administration is set to give Asia "the kind of attention that it has been talking about on the economic front but hasn’t been able to deliver on."
The two countries created the partnership to reaffirm the shared commitment to strengthen theirs alliance through regular engagement on trade-related matters of importance.
"This Partnership will deepen the cooperation between the United States and Japan that has defined our strong bilateral trade relationship," said Ambassador Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, said. "Our close collaboration will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s development of an economic framework for the Indo-Pacific and help create sustainable, resilient, inclusive, and competitive trade policies that lift up our people and economies."
The initial areas of focus for cooperation will include issues such as third country concerns, cooperation in regional and multilateral trade-related fora, addressing labor and environment-related priorities, a supportive digital ecosystem for all, and trade facilitation, among other issues.
The first series of meetings under the Partnership on Trade are expected to take place early in 2022.
The Partnership will be chaired by representatives of the Office of the United States Trade Representative for the United States, and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade for Japan.