Biden dampens expectations for early trade deals

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Joe Biden has signaled improving American competitiveness will be his top priority next year, rather than striking new trade deals.

US president-elect Joe Biden has sought to play down any expectations of quick trade deals with partners such as the UK after he takes office in January.

In an interview with the New York Times, Mr Biden said his first priority will be to improve the US' own competitiveness, with a focus on boosting domestic manufacturing and protections for American workers.

He stated: "I'm not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education."
The declaration may be bad news for UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who has made a UK-USA free trade agreement a key post-Brexit priority.

Mr Biden also confirmed he would not be immediately lifting tariffs on goods coming into the US from China, but would instead conduct a review into his country's strategy for dealing with Beijing.

He added his goal will be to pursue trade policies that tackle "abusive practices" by the Asian nation, such as intellectual property theft, product dumping and illegal subsidies to corporations.

Mr Biden said the best way to achieve this will be working with the US' partners in the region and building alliances to compete with China, which would seem to signal a return to multilateralism following the 'go it alone' policies of the Trump administration.

"The best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our - or at least what used to be our - allies on the same page," he said. "It’s going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies."