Wendy Cutler's Senate Testimony on Indo-Pacific Trade
Cutler says that the U.S. risks "becoming increasingly marginalized as region forges a new future without us."
Watch the complete hearing in the embedded video above. Wendy Cutler's opening remarks start at 50:55. Click here to see the full list of witnesses.
In testimony delivered Tuesday, June 22, 2021, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Asia Society Policy Institute Vice President Wendy Cutler warned that without strong and sustained economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific, the United States risks forgoing enormous economic opportunities and “becoming increasingly marginalized as the region forges a new future without us.”
In her testimony, Cutler discussed how the trade landscape in the Indo-Pacific has changed since the United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2017, a deal for which she served as a senior U.S. negotiator. Rather than let the absence of the U.S. curtail their own involvement, other members regrouped and concluded the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — keeping the overwhelming majority of TPP provisions intact.
Cutler noted that China has expressed interest in joining CPTPP, and that Chinese officials are now consulting with certain members on possible support for a Chinese bid to join.
“The longer we are on the sidelines of these conversations, the less influence the U.S. will be able to exert,” she said.
Even if the United States may not currently be ready to consider a comprehensive negotiation, Cutler recommended that the country pursue narrower deals in sectors that would deliver concrete benefits to U.S. workers and firms, such as a digital trade agreement with like-minded regional partners.
“But what’s clear,” she said, is that “the first and most important step is to get our seat back at the table in this critical region.”