Trade once hurt Detroit. Biden is promising it will be different this time.


DETROIT — The decline of Detroit’s economy in recent decades turned this iconic industrial city into a symbol of U.S. trade policy’s past failures. Now, President Joe Biden wants to show it can represent trade policy’s future.

Motor City is serving as the backdrop for a series of high-stakes meetings with trade ministers from across the Indo-Pacific region that began Thursday, part of the Biden administration’s effort to fortify relationships in a region vital to his economic and security agenda. But selling Biden’s new approach to trade means overcoming a well of skepticism — both from trade partners who fear he is moving away from free trade and from domestic political allies like Detroit’s labor unions who fear he’s not moving far enough.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday welcomed her contemporaries from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a consortium focused on promoting open and fair trade around the Pacific rim, for the first of two days of meetings. On Saturday, Tai will join Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo for a ministerial gathering with the 13 nations the U.S. hopes to bring into the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework — an administration initiative to deepen

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