‘Quad’ summit is a chance to clarify our Indo-Pacific agenda
At tomorrow’s White House summit with the prime ministers of Australia, India, and Japan — Scott Morrison, Narendra Modi, and Yoshihide Suga — President Biden has a rare opportunity to add steel to the spine of the “Quad,” a potentially powerful group of Indo-Pacific democracies.
While the group’s promise is intriguing, its agenda is still in formation. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Quad leaders would discuss “advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combating COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The U.S. business community has much to contribute regarding these shared goals. Following are some of the U.S. Chamber’s recommendations.
- Pandemic response: The delta variant has dealt a substantial blow to the global recovery, leading economists to trim growth forecasts. The pandemic won’t be over for any of us until it is over for all of us. A more effective global response is needed. There’s good news on vaccinations: Former White House advisor Andy Slavitt recently noted that 5.4 billion shots have been given across the globe, with more than 1 billion doses being distributed each month. India, Japan and other countries are overtaking the U.S. in the jabs race. However, the world’s poorest nations are being left behind. The U.S. is stepping up, but we must do more to truly be the “arsenal of vaccines.” India, long home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers, appears to be poised to boost exports in the weeks ahead. Across the globe, a true partnership between government, industry, and NGOs is required to provide an effective delivery infrastructure to get people vaccinated, and the Quad is well-positioned to drive this effort forward.
- Climate and supply chains: The Quad have discussed how to diversify their supply chains and minimize reliance on a single source for essential goods. This is especially urgent for the strategic minerals required to support the energy transition. Joint efforts on extraction and processing of rare earths, lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and other essential minerals is the right place to start. Expediting reductions in carbon emissions depends in part on electric vehicles and renewable generation platforms, which depend on batteries, which depend on the extraction and processing of these minerals. Global mining firms may have to raise the annual production of these strategic minerals by 500 percent in the next decade to meet climate goals. The Quad needs to get the right policies in place to make this happen — now.
- The digital economy: New digital technologies have vast potential to drive growth and job creation worldwide, and they are key to U.S. competitiveness. By advancing a coherent, market-based approach to the digital economy, the Quad can provide leadership in forging a broader digital consensus across the Indo-Pacific and the wider world. In this case, leadership starts with a demonstrated commitment to support cross-border data flows and avoid forced localization of data. The Quad should also reinforce its existing commitments to non-discriminatory treatment and good regulatory practices as officials respond to the digital transformation. Getting the digital policy environment right will unleash small business exports and services trade — and support workers here at home.
- Cybersecurity: Cyberattacks by nation-states and cybercriminals are increasing in scale, frequency, complexity and consequence. Quad members have endured cyberattacks, supply chain attacks, and ransomware attacks that have held government agencies and critical infrastructure at significant cyber risk in recent months. The Quad can promote norms for responsible nation-state behavior in cyberspace, built through international engagements and cooperation. These can reduce cyber risk over time when coupled with coordinated public attribution and the imposition of consequences for indiscriminate attacks that run afoul of international law and norms. The Quad can encourage cybersecurity best practices and the adoption of industry-led security standards and frameworks to enhance the cybersecurity and resilience of critical infrastructure and the ICT supply chain. Continued cyberattacks against governments and businesses must stop, and the Quad has a vital role in deterring malicious cyber attackers from operating with impunity.
- Trade: A year ago, the Biden campaign vowed it would “end the artificial trade war on our allies.” Now is the time for the Biden administration to fulfill this pledge and terminate the Sec. 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from allies and partners like the Quad, whose governments rightly question the charge that their exports threaten U.S. national security. Further, U.S. prices of steel have surged by 300 percent in the past year, and demand for these metals is only expected to rise with new infrastructure investments. U.S. manufacturers and our alliances will both benefit from termination of these harmful tariffs.
In sum, the Biden administration’s attention to the Quad as a platform for constructive progress on key issues in the Indo-Pacific is well-placed. The U.S. business community is equally committed to helping achieve the Quad’s promise as an important new forum to advance our shared values and interests.
Myron Brilliant is the executive vice president and head of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He leads the largest international affairs team of any U.S. business association, representing the Chamber and its members before the U.S. government, foreign governments, and international business organizations.