This referred to a portion of the framework referred to as “Pillar I,” the trade portion of the agreement. The about-face might have made sense politically, given that the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated under former President Barack Obama — and repealed by his successor, Donald Trump — was also unpopular in manufacturing and energy-producing states. However, say what you will about Obama and his deal, at least he was consistent about his priorities in that area. Biden’s people sounded eager about the plan. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told CNBC in an interview just two weeks prior to APEC that the United States was “looking to announce a number of deliverables across the pillars of IPEF, which we will be very excited to share with everyone.” Now, according to Axios, the White House’s “directive left negotiators stunned — and confused — over what they were supposed to do.” Matt Murray, the senior U.S. official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, sounded a lot less confident than Kai in a conference call on Monday. “Certainly this week is a good opportunity to take advantage of counterparts from all of those APEC and IPEF members being in town at the same time, and being able to continue to hammer out in the negotiations some specific outcomes that they can be announced this week,” Murray said, according to a State Department transcript. However, he added that there would be “an IPEF ministerial that will be ongoing, and I think that as we’ve seen with APEC and IPEF throughout the year, there’s a lot of complementarity between the topics that are being discussed in IPEF and the pillars on trade and on supply chains and on decarbonization and on anti-corruption and tax.” When Murray was asked directly about Brown’s concerns by a reporter from Politico, though, he was ever eager to pass the buck. “So on that I would defer — refer you to U.S. Trade Representative’s Office as they’re leading on that discussion,” he said. “I think, again, the focus of myself and our team out here this week has been really on the APEC meetings that are — we’re going to be hosting this week, the ministerial and the leaders’ meeting, and all of the other things associated with that, including the CEO summit, a lot of private sector engagement, the outreach to stakeholders, and all of that,” Murray said. As for “any specifics on where the negotiations are on the trade pillar for IPEF, I’d refer you to” the U.S. trade representative, he said. Right. Again, the IPEF debacle — whether you agree with supranational trade agreements of that sort or think they impose too great a cost on America in terms of jobs and energy independence — is proof that the Biden agenda is this: Go as radical as possible until you lose control of the organs of power. The IPEF was, for all intents and purposes, rushing toward completion in its original form before Democrats looked at the Senate map for 2024 and realized that losing both houses of Congress would dramatically temper any victory at the executive level. So, just like that, the president’s people — because, let’s face it, Joe is likely still deciding what flavor of oatmeal to have for breakfast and it’s already lunchtime, which means the IPEF isn’t exactly going to get sorted by him personally — slammed on the brakes. Is this the kind of leadership America deserves? Because the world is watching both Washington and San Francisco — and it’s seeing nothing but chaos and dysfunction.
A trade deal without enforceable labor standards is a bad deal for Ohio workers and a bad deal for this country.— Sherrod Brown (@SherrodBrown) November 12, 2023
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.