President Joe Biden is struggling to make progress on his global trade agenda, and it’s no surprise considering the lack of support he’s getting from his fellow Democrats. Biden’s plan to focus on “worker-centered” trade has hit a wall as key Senate Democrats have voiced their concerns that the measures could cost them votes in the upcoming 2024 election. The president’s recent efforts to unveil an economic pact with 13 Indo-Pacific nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings were thwarted when his team had to pull the trade part of the talks due to stalled negotiations, a move that didn’t sit well with some Democrats, like Sens. Sherrod Brown and Tammy Baldwin.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 2, 2024
The root of the problem seems to be the worry among Democrats that the trade plan could harm workers and their chances of reelection. They fear that the plan could be perceived as a step backward in terms of labor and environmental standards, even though Biden has been touting it as a way to prevent job outsourcing. The cherry on top of this mess is that the Democrats who are against the plan don’t see any hope for it to be revived, despite Biden’s insistence on continuing discussions.
The objections from some nations about the proposed labor and environmental standards highlight the difficulty the U.S. faces in pushing for high standards in trade deals. That doesn’t seem to sit well with Senator Brown, who is more interested in protecting workers than in striking a potentially flawed trade deal. It seems like Democrats are more interested in corporate giveaways and ensuring protections for workers, which honestly sounds like a big ol’ yikes for Biden and his trade agenda.
The problems don’t end with the Indo-Pacific deal. Biden’s team also has to deal with the European Union over tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump, not to mention a failed attempt to secure a liberal trade pact with Latin American countries.
Despite the setbacks, the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is holding out hope, claiming that the resistance they’re facing is just a slowness to come around to the administration’s plans. Keep dreaming, Tai. It looks like Biden’s global trade agenda is in pretty rough shape, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get any easier anytime soon. This is definitely not what the president had in mind when he was hoping to make his mark on the global stage.