Joe Biden on Free Trade

Former Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


Ban trade from Xinjiang; plus diplomatic boycott of Olympics

President Biden signed a new law banning products made in China's Xinjiang region because of China's oppression of its largely Muslim Uighur minority population. The law imposes a near-blanket ban on the import to the US of goods by requiring suppliers to first prove their products were not made with forced labour. Xinjiang is a large supplier of cotton and solar panels.

UN experts have estimated that more than one million people, mainly Uighurs, have been imprisoned in recent years in a vast system of camps in Xinjiang. The US and many rights groups have called it "genocide".

The US cited the situation in Xinjiang in a decision earlier this month to launch a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Biden administration also imposed trade sanctions last week on several Chinese companies, accusing the government in Beijing of advancing high-tech surveillance on the Uighurs. [See H.R. 6256 for details of bill]

Source: Al Jazeera "Xinjiang" on 2021 Biden Administration , Dec 23, 2021

China is a competitor, not an opponent

Q: Do you believe Russia is an enemy?

BIDEN: I believe Russia is an opponent.

Q: Do you view China as an opponent? The President says you've been too cozy with China, too accepting of them in the international community.

BIDEN: I'm not that guy. We now have a larger trade deficit than we've ever had with China. [Trump in a negative way] keeps going on about the World Trade Organization; they just ruled that his trade policy violated [WTO rules with its tariffs on China]. In our Administration, when the WTO [was dealing with China], we sued. We went to the World Trade Organization 16 times, 16 times.

Q: Do you view China as an opponent?

BIDEN: I view China as a competitor.

Q: Competitor?

BIDEN: A serious competitor. That's why, I think, we have to strengthen our relationships and our alliances in Asia. As you may recall, when I was in China, I said to Xi, "We're going to abide by international norms. That's what we're going to do and insist that they do."

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper , Sep 17, 2020

Won't be at the mercy of other countries to protect our own

Biden has been trying to fortify his message on China, and suggested he would pursue the kind of "decoupling" being pushed by leading Republicans. "We'll make the medical supplies and protective equipment that our country needs," he said, while discussing the pandemic. "We'll make them here in America so we will never again be at the mercy of China or other foreign countries in order to protect our own people."
Source: D.Brennan/Newsweek on 2020 Democratic National Convention , Aug 21, 2020

Trump's flimsy trade deal sells out US interest to China

[According to the book "The Room Where It Happened"], during a meeting last year, President Donald Trump turned to Chinese President Xi Jinping and asked for an important favor: China should increase its purchase of American soybeans and wheat because aiding American farmers would help him win the upcoming 2020 election, according to excerpts of a new book by Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton. The request was made during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

Joe Biden issued a statement saying Trump 'sold out the American people to protect his political future' in his dealings with China that Bolton outlined. 'He was willing to trade away our most cherished democratic values for the empty promise of a flimsy trade deal that bailed him out of his disastrous tariff war that did so much damage to our farmers, manufacturers, and consumers,' Biden said.

Source: USA Today excerpts from "The Room Where It Happened" , Jun 17, 2020

Chinese pollution will result in tariffs on their products

China is taking the dirtiest coal in the world mostly out of Mongolia and spreading it all around the world. Make it clear when you call them to Washington in the first 100 days, if you continue, you will suffer severe consequences because the rest of the world will impose tariffs on everything you're selling because you are undercutting the entire economy.
Source: 9th Democrat 2020 primary debate, in Las Vegas Nevada , Feb 19, 2020

Either we make up trade policy, or China will

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: Joe Biden and I strongly disagree on trade. I helped lead the opposition to NAFTA and PNTR, which cost this country over 4 million good-paying jobs.

BIDEN: Yeah, well, look, we're either going to make policy or China's going to make the rules of the road. We make up 25 percent of the world economy. We need another 25 percent to join us. And I think-Senator Warren is correct: At the table has to be labor and at the table have to be environmentalists. The fact of the matter is, China--the problem isn't the trade deficit, the problem is they're stealing our intellectual property. The problem is they're violating the WTO. They're dumping steel and dumping agricultural products on us. In addition to that, we're in a position where, if we don't set the rules, we, in fact, are going to find ourselves with China setting the rules. And that's why you need to organize the world to take on China, to stop the corrupt practices that are underway.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

Use tariffs to get China to pay the price for pollution

Q: How would you try to get China to lower its emissions?

BIDEN: We have to bring around the rest of the world. When we did the Paris accord that they signed onto, it was agreed that we would constantly up the ante. China is exporting coal technology. They're making the environment much, much worse. There has to be a price that they pay if they do that. That's why I would talk about dealing with them in terms of tariffs. But you've got to get the rest of the world in on the deal to do i

Source: Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN 2019 Democratic primary) , Sep 4, 2019

Labor should be involved in renegotiating NAFTA/USMCA

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio [to Biden]: Are you ready to say that you will oppose a new NAFTA and that what you believe in is trade treaties that empower organized labor across the world and give working people power, not just multinational corporations?

Biden: Yes.

Q: That's it?

Biden: He said, would I insist that labor be engaged? The answer is yes.

De Blasio: I consider that a victory.

Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit) , Jul 31, 2019

Push for agreements that don't hurt consumers or business

Biden said he'd push for trade agreements that don't hamper the international exchange of goods but don't disadvantage American consumers or business, while also holding China accountable for intellectual property abuses. "There's not going to be a back to business-as-usual on trade," he said. "We need new rules. We need new processes."
Source: Seattle Times on 2019 Democratic primary , Jul 11, 2019

US must take lead on free trade, but deal with uneven impact

Globalization, man, it's been wonderful. It's not been wonderful for an awful lot of people. It is applied very, very unevenly. We fail to recognize that there are genuine dislocations when we talk about TPP and trade. The truth of the matter is, if we're not pushing on the establishment of an international order and fully engaged internationally, there is little likelihood that there will be 21st century rules of the road that can accommodate the change that's taking place.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 candidates , Sep 21, 2016

Comprehensive transatlantic trade agreement is within reach

Just imagine what we can do as we get our respective houses in order. Already, Europe is America's largest economic partner, and the numbers are staggering: over $600 billion in annual trade that creates and sustains millions of jobs on the continent and at home, and a $5 trillion overall commercial relationship.

But the potential is so much greater still. There's a lot of interest lately in the idea of a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement. The reason we don't have one already is not because no one ever thought of it; it's because there have always been difficult issues, such as regulations and standards, which continue to divide us. The question now is whether the political will exists to resolve those longstanding differences. And if so, we should pursue a transatlantic partnership. And if we go down that road, we should try to avoid protracted rounds of negotiations. This is within our reach. It would be good on both sides of the Atlantic.

Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany , Feb 2, 2013

Permanent normal trade relations to Russia

[Recent internationally] important step enabled us to do some good things: to negotiate, ratify and implement the New START Treaty; to expand economic and trade relationships--including both Russian accession to the WTO and extension of the permanent normal trade relations to Russia; to build a bilateral presidential commission that networks Russian and American officials and publics on the broadest cooperative agenda the US and Russia have ever tried to share.

But we are not naive--neither Russia or the US. We will not agree with Russia on everything. For example, the US will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. These differences are real. But we continue to see opportunities for the US & Russia to partner in ways that advance our mutual security interest & the interest of the international community--whether by safeguarding and reducing nuclear arsenals, or boosting our trade & investment to help each other unlock the enormous innovative potential of our societies.

Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany , Feb 2, 2013

Competition with China pushes for better products & policies

I believe that a rising China is a positive development--not only for China but also for the United States and the world. It will fuel economic growth and prosperity, and a rising China will bring to the fore a new partner with whom we can have help meeting the global challenges we all face.

Even as our nations cooperate, though, we will continue to compete. As Americans, we welcome this competition. It's part of our DNA. And it pushes our companies to develop better products and services and our government to craft better policies.

But competition can only be mutually beneficial if the rules of the game are understood, agreed upon and followed. I'm pleased that we have made progress in areas of concern. China's exchange rate is appreciating, though still substantially undervalued in our view. And China has responded to our concerns to strengthen enforcement of intellectual property rights as well.

Source: Speech with Chinese V.P. Xi to US and China CEOs , Feb 14, 2012

Toughest choice: rationalizing competition & trade policy

Q: What do you think the toughest choice you have left to make is? What havenít you made up your mind on yet? And why havenít you?

A: I know exactly what Iíd do in those foreign policy issues. But quite frankly, I think that the toughest choice for me, the thing Iím most unsure about, is how you rationalize competition and trade policy. I think thatís the single most difficult challenge that I will have as president.

Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

I'm a "car guy"; I recognize importance of manufacturing

Joe confided that he was a "car guy" (his dad had managed the used car division for an auto dealer in Scranton), affirming the importance of manufacturing to America's economic future. I watched his face intently as he spoke, looking for evidence that he truly believed his words. Like millions of voters, I desperately hoped to find reasons to believe. "I know you have it rough in Michigan," Biden finally said. "You need a partner in Washington. I promise you'll have one."
Source: A Governor's Story, by Jennifer Granholm, p.155-156 , Oct 1, 2005

Joe Biden on Protectionism

Make it in America, instead of foreign supply chains

We have a choice. One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer.

I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages. Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More goods moving faster and cheaper in America. More jobs where you can earn a good living in America. And instead of relying on foreign supply chains, let's make it in America.

Economists call it "increasing the productive capacity of our economy." I call it building a better America.

Source: 2022 State of the Union address , Mar 1, 2022

Buying American doesn't violate any trade agreement

All the investments in the American Job Plan will be guided by one principle: Buy American. Buy American. And I might note parenthetically, that does not violate any trade agreement. It's been the law since the '30s: Buy American. American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America to create American jobs. That's the way it is supposed to be, and it will be in this administration.
Source: 2021 State of the Union address , Apr 28, 2021

Reinstate Trump's 10% tariffs on aluminum from UAE

In one of his first trade actions, President Joe Biden reinstated a 10% duty on aluminum imports from the United Arab Emirates that Pres. Trump removed just one day before leaving office. "I consider it is necessary and appropriate in light of our national security interests to maintain, at this time, the tariff treatment applied to aluminum article imports from the United Arab Emirates," Biden said.

Why Biden acted: "The available evidence indicates that imports from the UAE may still displace domestic production, and thereby threaten to impair our national security," Biden stated. Biden noted that US importers can apply for a waiver from tariffs on products not available from domestic suppliers. "Tellingly, there have been 33 such exclusion requests for aluminum imported from the UAE, and the Secretary of Commerce has denied 32 of those requests," Biden said. "This indicates the large degree of overlap between imports from the UAE and what our domestic industry is capable of producing."

Source: Politico.com e-zine on 2021 Biden Administration , Feb 1, 2021

Malarkey that China paid farmers; taxpayers did

Q: What specifically are you going to do to make China pay? You've said you're going to make them pay. New sanctions?

TRUMP: First of all, China is paying. They're paying billions and billions of dollars. I just gave $28 billion to our farmers.

BIDEN: Taxpayer's money. Didn't come from China.

TRUMP: No, no. You know who the taxpayer is? It's called China. China pays $28 billion, and you know what they did to pay it, Joe? They devalued their currency and they also paid up, and you know got the money? Our farmers, our great farmers, because they were targeted. You never charged them anything. Also, I charged them 25% on dumped steel, because they were killing our steel industry. We were not going to have a steel industry. And now we have a steel industry.

BIDEN: There's a reason why he's bringing up all this malarkey. He doesn't want to talk about the substantive issues. [Based on] the decisions you're making, middle-class families like I grew up in Scranton, they're in trouble.

Source: Third 2020 Presidential Debate, moderated by Kristen Welker , Oct 22, 2020

FactCheck: Yes, US has tried "Buy American" for 100 years

Biden claimed about his proposed "Buy American" policy that "We've been talking about this policy for a 100 years. We've never fully done it. We can and must do it now." Is that claim true?

Yes, it's true. Some examples: