Connecting People & Ideas to Advance Mutual Interests in U.S.-Asia Relations

On January 30, 2024 the Mansfield Foundation hosted Dr. Saori Katada (University of Southern California), Ms. Kyla Kitamura (Congressional Research Service), and Dr. Mireya Solís (The Brookings Institution) for a roundtable discussion addressing how the United States and Japan can continue to cooperate in the field of economics, and priorities for the bilateral relationship in 2024. A recording of the session is available on our YouTube channel.

Ms. Kyla Kitamura began the conversation by outlining the opportunities and challenges for the United States and Japan in trade relations. Her key point was that a recent focus on targeted executive agreements have impacted trade agreements for the United States. Ms. Kitamura also emphasized the importance of engaging with the Indo-Pacific through efforts such as friendshoring and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).

Dr. Saori Katada followed Ms. Kitamura by emphasizing how the global economy will be critical in the year 2024. She discussed how the various elections across the world will impact the global economy, particularly in Japan. Dr. Katada detailed three key points for economic cooperation in 2024: maintaining the rules-based global trade order; supply chain resiliency; and taking into account geopolitical developments such as upcoming elections.

Wrapping up the discussion, Dr. Mireya Solís raised concerns about how domestic politics will affect economic and international politics in 2024. Given the political constraints looming over the United States and the disbandment of four party factions within Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, Dr. Solís expressed concern that President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida will be focused on domestic politics in a time of geopolitical and economic strife. Dr. Solís highlighted how economic and international politics are becoming intertwined and the importance of economic security between the United States. and Japan, given their shared interests such as concerns over China.

During the Q&A portion, the three speakers discussed economic cooperation through the implementation of friendshoring. Dr. Solís cautioned that friendshoring needs to start with realistic expectations, while being mindful of choke points. Dr. Katada emphasized that friendshoring must address vulnerabilities and promote supply chain sustainability while also maintaining economic competitiveness, and Ms. Kitamura noted the importance of incentivizing onshoring in addition to friendshoring. In addition, the speakers discussed economic cooperation in the broader sense of digital economy, trade blocs in the context of globalism, and how the United States, Japan, and EU can cooperate moving forward.