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    U.S. Technology, a Longtime Tool for Russia, Becomes a Vulnerability

    Global restrictions on sending advanced technology to Russia are hampering the country’s military capacity, U.S. officials say, though Russia has stockpiled American equipment for years.WASHINGTON — With magnifying glasses, screwdrivers and a delicate touch from a soldering gun, two men from an investigative group that tracks weapons pried open Russian munitions and equipment that had been captured across Ukraine.Over a week’s visit to Ukraine last month, the investigators pulled apart every piece of advanced Russian hardware they could get their hands on, such as small laser range finders and guidance sections of cruise missiles. The researchers, who were invited by the Ukrainian security service to independently analyze advanced Russian gear, found that almost all of it included parts from companies based in the United States and the European Union: microchips, circuit boards, engines, antenna and other equipment.“Advanced Russian weapons and communications systems have been built around Western chips,” said Damien Spleeters, one of the investigators with Conflict Armament Research, which identifies and tracks weapons and ammunition. He added that Russian companies had enjoyed access to an “unabated supply” of Western technology for decades.U.S. officials have long been proud of their country’s ability to supply technology and munitions to the rest of the world. But since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the United States has faced an unfortunate reality: The tools that Russian forces are using to wage war are often powered by American innovation.Still, while the technology made by American and European companies has been turned against Ukraine, the situation has also given the United States and its allies an important source of leverage against Russia. The United States and dozens of countries have used export bans to cut off shipments of advanced technology, hobbling Russia’s ability to produce weapons to replace those that have been destroyed in the war, according to American and European officials.On Thursday, the Biden administration announced further sanctions and restrictions on Russia and Belarus, adding 71 organizations to a government list that prevents them from buying advanced technology. The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against a yacht-management company that caters to Russian oligarchs.While some analysts have urged caution about drawing early conclusions, saying the measures will take time to have a full effect, the Biden administration has called them a success. Since Western allies announced extensive restrictions on exports of semiconductors, computers, lasers, telecommunications equipment and other goods in February, Russia has had difficulty obtaining microchips to replenish its supply of precision-guided munitions, according to one senior U.S. official, who, along with most other officials interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters based on intelligence.On Tuesday, when asked if a chip shortage was crippling the Russian military, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who oversees export controls, said the answer was “an unqualified yes.”“U.S. exports to Russia in the categories where we have export controls, including semiconductors, are down by over 90 percent since Feb. 24,” she said. “So that is crippling.”The restrictions halt direct technological exports from the United States and dozens of partner nations to Russia. But they also go beyond traditional wartime sanctions issued by the U.S. government by placing limitations on certain high-tech goods that are manufactured anywhere in the world using American machinery, software or blueprints. That means countries that are not in the sanctions coalition with the United States and Europe must also follow the rules or potentially face their own sanctions.Russia has stopped publishing monthly trade data since the invasion, but customs data from its major trading partners show that shipments of essential parts and components have fallen sharply. According to data compiled by Matthew C. Klein, an economics researcher who tracks the effect of the export controls, Russian imports of manufactured goods from nine major economies for which data is available were down 51 percent in April compared with the average from September 2021 to February 2022.The restrictions have rendered the old-school bombing runs on tank factories and shipyards of past wars unnecessary, Mr. Klein wrote. “The democracies can replicate the effect of well-targeted bombing runs with the right set of sanctions precisely because the Russian military depends on imported equipment.”Russia is one of the world’s largest arms exporters, especially to India, but its industry relies heavily on imported inputs. In 2018, Russian sources satisfied only about half of the military-related equipment and services the country needed, such as transportation equipment, computers, optical equipment, machinery and fabricated metal, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development compiled by Mr. Klein.The remainder of equipment and services used by Russia were imported, with about a third coming from the United States, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and other partner governments that imposed sanctions together on Moscow.A printed circuit board from a cruise missile internal computer collected by Conflict Armament Research during its investigation.via Conflict Armament ResearchU.S. officials say that in concert with a wide variety of other sanctions that ban or discourage commercial relations, the export controls have been highly effective. They have pointed to Russian tank factories that have furloughed workers and struggled with shortages of parts. The U.S. government has also received reports that the Russian military is scrambling to find parts for satellites, avionics and night vision goggles, officials say.Technology restrictions have harmed other Russian industries as well, U.S. officials say. Equipment for the oil and gas industry has been degraded, maintenance for tractors and heavy equipment made by Caterpillar and John Deere has halted, and up to 70 percent of the commercial airplanes operated by Russian airlines, which no longer receive spare parts and maintenance from Airbus and Boeing, are grounded, officials say.But some experts have sounded notes of caution. Michael Kofman, the director of Russia studies at CNA, a research institute in Arlington, Va., voiced skepticism about some claims that the export controls were forcing some tank factories and other defense companies in Russia to shutter.“There’s not been much evidence to substantiate reports of problems in Russia’s defense sector,” he said. It was still too early in the war to expect meaningful supply chain problems in Russia’s defense industry, he said, and the sourcing for those early claims was unclear.Maria Snegovaya, a visiting scholar at George Washington University who has studied sanctions on Russia, said the lack of critical technologies and maintenance was likely to start being felt widely across Russian industry in the fall, as companies run out of parts and supplies or need upkeep on equipment. She and other analysts said even the production of daily goods such as printer paper would be affected; Russian companies had bought the dye to turn the paper white from Western companies.“We expect random disruptions in Russia’s production chains to manifest themselves more frequently,” Ms. Snegovaya said. “The question is: Are Russian companies able to find substitutes?”U.S. officials say the Russian government and companies there have been looking for ways to get around the controls but have so far been largely unsuccessful. The Biden administration has threatened to penalize any company that helps Russia evade sanctions by cutting it off from access to U.S. technology.The Russia-Ukraine War and the Global EconomyCard 1 of 7A far-reaching conflict. More

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    Biden Administration Begins Trade Dialogue With Taiwan

    WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Wednesday said that it would pursue negotiations to strengthen trade and technology ties with Taiwan, a move that is aimed at countering China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region and one that is likely to rankle Beijing.The announcement follows the Biden administration’s efforts to build an Asia-Pacific economic bloc, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, that includes 13 countries and excludes Taiwan.China claims the island, a self-governing democracy that is critical to global technology supply chains, as an incontestable part of its territory.While Taiwan expressed interest in becoming a full member of the Indo-Pacific framework, that prospect was deemed too controversial by many participating countries.The talks with Taiwan will cover many of the same issues as the framework, from digital trade to reducing red tape for importers and exporters. U.S. officials said the talks, the first of which will be held in Washington at the end of June, would focus on a variety of issues, including opening up trade in agriculture and aligning technological standards.Several topics of the discussion are clearly aimed at addressing mutual complaints over Chinese trade practices. U.S. officials said they would work with Taiwan to eliminate forced labor in global supply chains and develop provisions to compete with nonmarket practices from state-owned enterprises.Negotiations will happen along two tracks, with the United States trade representative handling trade issues and the Commerce Department in charge of technology and investment, including coordination on export controls and measures to secure semiconductor supply chains.“Taiwan is an incredibly important partner to us, especially as it relates to semiconductors,” Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, said in a briefing Tuesday, adding, “We look forward to continuing to deepen our economic ties with Taiwan.”Taiwan has long pushed for deeper trade ties with the United States. In 2020, it eased restrictions on imports of U.S. beef and pork in an effort to entice the United States into formal negotiations. The following year, the United States and Taiwan resumed some trade talks despite Beijing’s opposition.Since then, a global shortage of semiconductors, among Taiwan’s most valuable exports, has further increased the island’s strategic importance.Because the Biden administration’s negotiations with Taiwan would not include so-called market access provisions that require changes in U.S. law, the administration does not anticipate needing congressional approval for any agreement, senior officials said, though they added that they would continue to consult with Congress on the process.Given Taiwan’s contested status, the two sides will also meet unofficially and under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan, which is the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, which represents Taiwan in the United States in the absence of diplomatic recognition.Senior U.S. officials said in a call with reporters Tuesday that while they didn’t include Taiwan among the initial members negotiating the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, going forward they intended to take a flexible approach to participation. More

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    Seizing Russian Assets to Help Ukraine Sets Off White House Debate

    WASHINGTON — The devastation in Ukraine brought on by Russia’s war has leaders around the world calling for seizing more than $300 billion of Russian central bank assets and handing the funds to Ukraine to help rebuild the country.But the movement, which has gained momentum in parts of Europe, has run into resistance in the United States. Top Biden administration officials warned that diverting those funds could be illegal and discourage other countries from relying on the United States as a haven for investment.The cost to rebuild Ukraine is expected to be significant. Its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, estimated this month that it could be $600 billion after months of artillery, missile and tank attacks — meaning that even if all of Russia’s central bank assets abroad were seized, they would cover only half the costs.In a joint statement last week, finance ministers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia urged the European Union to create a way to fund the rebuilding of cities and towns in Ukraine with frozen Russian central bank assets, so that Russia can be “held accountable for its actions and pay for the damage caused.”Confiscating the Russian assets was also a central topic at a gathering of top economic officials from the Group of 7 nations at a meeting this month, with the idea drawing public support from Germany and Canada.The United States, which has led a global effort to isolate Russia with stiff sanctions, has been far more cautious in this case. Internally, the Biden administration has been debating whether to join an effort to seize the assets, which include dollars and euros that Moscow deposited before its invasion of Ukraine. Only a fraction of the funds are kept in the United States; much of it was deposited in Europe, including at the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland.Russia had hoped that keeping more than $600 billion in central bank reserves would help bolster its economy against sanctions. But it made the mistake of sending half those funds out of the country. By all accounts, Russian officials were stunned at the speed at which they were frozen — a very different reaction from the one it faced after annexing Crimea in 2014, when it took a year for weak sanctions to be imposed.Those funds have been frozen for the past three months, keeping the government of President Vladimir V. Putin from repatriating the money or spending it on the war. But seizing or actually taking ownership of them is another matter.At a news conference in Germany this month, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen appeared to close the door on the United States’ ability to participate in any effort to seize and redistribute those assets. Ms. Yellen, a former central banker who initially had reservations about immobilizing the assets, said that while the concept was being studied, she believed that seizing the funds would violate U.S. law.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has cautioned against seizing Russian central bank assets to help pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction.Ina Fassbender/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images“I think it’s very natural that given the enormous destruction in Ukraine and huge rebuilding costs that they will face, that we will look to Russia to help pay at least a portion of the price that will be involved,” she said. “It’s not something that is legally permissible in the United States.”But within the Biden administration, one official said, there was reluctance “to have any daylight between us and the Europeans on sanctions.” So the United States is seeking to find some kind of common ground while analyzing whether a seizure of central bank funds might, for example, encourage other countries to put their central bank reserves in other currencies and keep it out of American hands.In addition to the legal obstacles, Ms. Yellen and others have argued that it could make nations reluctant to keep their reserves in dollars, for fear that in future conflicts the United States and its allies would confiscate the funds. Some national security officials in the Biden administration say they are concerned that if negotiations between Ukraine and Russia begin, there would be no way to offer significant sanctions relief to Moscow once the reserves have been drained from its overseas accounts.Treasury officials suggested before Ms. Yellen’s comments that the United States had not settled on a firm position about the fate of the assets. Several senior officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal debates in the Biden administration, suggested that no final decision had been made. One official said that while seizing the funds to pay for reconstruction would be satisfying and warranted, the precedent it would set — and its potential effect on the United States’ status as the world’s safest place to leave assets — was a deep concern.In explaining Ms. Yellen’s comments, a Treasury spokeswoman pointed to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, which says that the United States can confiscate foreign property if the president determines that the country is under attack or “engaged in armed hostilities.”Legal scholars have expressed differing views about that reading of the law.Laurence H. Tribe, an emeritus law professor at Harvard University, pointed out that an amendment to International Emergency Economic Powers Act that passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks gives the president broader discretion to determine if a foreign threat warrants confiscation of assets. President Biden could cite Russian cyberattacks against the United States to justify liquidating the central bank reserves, Mr. Tribe said, adding that the Treasury Department was misreading the law.“If Secretary Yellen believes this is illegal, I think she’s flatly wrong,” he said. “It may be that they are blending legal questions with their policy concerns.”Mr. Tribe pointed to recent cases of the United States confiscating and redistributing assets from Afghanistan, Iran and Venezuela as precedents that showed Russia’s assets did not deserve special safeguards.Russia-Ukraine War: Key DevelopmentsCard 1 of 4On the ground. More

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    Debate Over Tariffs Reveals Biden’s Difficulties on China Trade

    Sixteen months into the Biden presidency, U.S. officials are still divided over what to do about a trade legacy left by President Donald J. Trump.WASHINGTON — President Biden’s decision on Monday to try to align with Asian partners to form an economic bloc against China comes at a moment of frustration over his administration’s economic approach to Beijing, with some White House advisers pushing the president to move away from the Trump-era policies he criticized and others arguing that Mr. Biden risks being seen as weak on China if he relents.Some officials have grown frustrated that U.S. trade relations with China are still defined by policies set by President Donald J. Trump, including tariffs imposed on more than $360 billion of products and trade commitments made during a deal the United States and China signed in early 2020.Concerns about the United States’ economic approach to China have taken on new urgency amid rapid inflation. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and other officials have argued that the full suite of tariffs served little strategic purpose and could be at least partly lifted to ease the financial burden on companies and consumers.But those ideas have met pushback from other senior administration officials, such as some top White House aides, the U.S. trade representative and labor groups. They argue that removing the tariffs — which were put in place to punish China over its economic practices — would constitute unilateral disarmament given that Beijing has yet to address many of the policies that prompted the measures. With the midterm elections looming, some administration officials are worried that removing tariffs would make Democrats vulnerable to political attacks, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former officials.The business community is also losing patience with the absence of a clear trade strategy nearly a year and a half into Mr. Biden’s presidency. Executives have complained about a lack of clarity, which they say has made it difficult to determine whether to continue investing in China, a critical market.The challenges in figuring out how to confront Chinese trade practices have become harder amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The United States was originally moving toward making changes to its trade relationship with China in early 2022, a senior administration official said, but with Beijing aligning with Moscow, Mr. Biden felt it was prudent to see how events unfolded in Ukraine with respect to the global economy and U.S. allies.Biden administration officials are conflicted over whether to remove tariffs on Chinese goods.Doug Mills/The New York TimesSome elements of the administration’s trade strategy are becoming clearer this week. Mr. Biden announced in Japan on Monday that the United States would begin talks with 12 countries to develop a new economic framework for the Indo-Pacific region. The countries would aim to form a bloc that would provide an early warning system for supply chain issues, encourage industries to decarbonize and offer U.S. businesses reliable Asian partners outside China.The framework would not contain the binding commitments for market access that are typical of most trade deals, which have proved to be a hard sell for many Democrats after the United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Barack Obama’s signature trade agreement.U.S. officials say their goals for the framework will be ambitious and include raising labor and environmental standards and creating new guidelines for how data flows between countries. But some analysts have questioned whether the framework can encourage those changes without offering Asian countries the U.S. market access that is typically the incentive in trade pacts. And U.S. labor groups are already wary that some commitments could lead to further outsourcing for American industries.The framework also does not try to directly shape trade with China. Many Biden administration officials have concluded that talks with China have proved largely fruitless, as have negotiations at the World Trade Organization. Instead, they have said they would try to confront China by changing the environment around it by rebuilding alliances and investing more in the United States, including through a $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill.Senior U.S. officials hold a similar view as their counterparts in the Trump administration that the world’s dependence on the Chinese economy has given Beijing enormous strategic leverage. A classified China strategy that was largely finished last fall argues that it is important for U.S. security to delink some industries and diversify supply chains, people familiar with the strategy say.The administration was supposed to offer a glimpse of the classified strategy in a major speech laying out economic and security goals for China, which Washington officials and China experts expected to occur last fall. The White House first considered having Mr. Biden deliver the speech but settled on Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.Yet the speech — which revolves around the slogan “Invest, Align and Compete,” according to those familiar with it — has been delayed for several reasons, including the war in Ukraine and Mr. Blinken’s contracting Covid-19 this month. Some China experts in Washington have interpreted the delays as another sign of uncertainty on China policy, but U.S. officials insist that is not true.Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, and other officials have argued against dropping the tariffs.Pete Marovich for The New York TimesMr. Blinken is expected to give the China speech shortly after he and Mr. Biden return from Japan, people familiar with the planning said.The speech avoids explicitly addressing how the administration will deal with Mr. Trump’s tariffs, they say. Businesses have long complained that they hurt U.S. companies and their consumers rather than China. That concern has been heightened by the fact that prices are rising at their fastest rate in 40 years, creating a political problem for the White House, which has struggled to explain how it can alleviate soaring costs other than relying on the Federal Reserve.But Republicans and Democrats who want more aggressive policies toward China — and toward some American companies that do business there — would try to draw blood if Mr. Biden eased the tariffs.“We need to rebuild American industry, not reward companies that keep their supply chains in China,” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said this month after voting against a legislative amendment allowing carve-outs to the tariffs.At a news conference in Japan on Monday, Mr. Biden said he would meet with Ms. Yellen when he returned from his trip to discuss her call to remove some of the China tariffs.“I am considering it,” the president said. “We did not impose any of those tariffs; they were imposed by the previous administration, and they are under consideration.”Public rifts among Biden officials have been rare, but when it comes to tariffs, the debate has spilled into the open.“There are definitely different views in the administration, and they’re surfacing,” said Wendy Cutler, the vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute and a former U.S. trade negotiator. “There are those who think that the tariffs didn’t work and are contributing to inflation. Then you have the trade negotiator side that says: ‘Why would we give them up now? They’re good leverage.’”The discussion over how and when to adjust these tariffs mirrors a bigger debate over whether globalized trade has done more to help or harm Americans, and how the Democratic Party should approach trade.Katherine Tai, the United States trade representative; Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary; Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser; and others have argued against dropping the tariffs. Ms. Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other officials have pointed out the benefits to companies and consumers from adjusting them, people familiar with the discussions said.Ms. Yellen has long been a voice of skepticism regarding the tariffs and has grown more frustrated with the pace of progress on trade developments, people familiar with her thinking said. She made the case last week for removing some of the tariffs as a way to offset rising prices.“Some relief could come from cutting some of them,” Ms. Yellen said, explaining that the tariffs were harming consumers and businesses. “There are a variety of opinions, and we really haven’t sorted out yet or come to agreement on where to be on tariffs.”Daleep Singh, a deputy national security adviser, was more blunt in an April 21 webinar. “We inherited these tariffs,” he said, “and while they may have created negotiating leverage, they serve no strategic purpose.”For products that do not strengthen critical supply chains or support national security, “there’s not much of a case for those tariffs being in place,” Mr. Singh said. “Why do we have tariffs on bicycles or apparel or underwear?”Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has grown more frustrated with the pace of progress on trade developments, according to people familiar with her thinking.Sarahbeth Maney/The New York TimesBut labor leaders, progressive Democrats and some industry representatives have made various arguments for maintaining tough tariffs, with several pointing to data showing that imports from China are not the main drivers of inflation.“For a Democratic president to get rid of tariffs imposed by a Republican and basically give a free handout to the Chinese Communist Party is not something that’s really politically wise in any form,” said Scott N. Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which represents steel companies and workers.Economists also believe the impact from removing the tariffs would be modest. Jason Furman, an economist at Harvard University and a former chairman of Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, estimates that removing all the China tariffs would shave half a percentage point off the Consumer Price Index, which grew 8.3 percent in April from a year earlier.Still, Mr. Furman said, when it comes to lowering inflation “tariff reduction is the single biggest tool the administration has.”Progressive Democrats like Representative Tim Ryan, Democrat of Ohio, have argued for maintaining tough tariffs on China.Dustin Franz for The New York TimesThe Office of the United States Trade Representative started a statutory review of the tariffs this month and says its approach to analyzing them is on track. “We need to make sure that whatever we do right now, first of all, is effective and, second of all, doesn’t undermine the medium-term design and strategy that we know we need to pursue,” Ms. Tai said in an interview on May 2.Some Biden administration officials appear to favor an outcome that would lift certain tariffs while increasing other trade penalties on China, a process that would take at least several months. That could happen through a separate investigation under the so-called Section 301 process into China’s use of industrial subsidies. More

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    G7 Nations Pledge $20 Billion to Ukraine

    KÖNIGSWINTER, Germany — The Group of 7 economic powers agreed on Friday to provide nearly $20 billion to support Ukraine’s economy over the coming months to help keep the country’s government running while it fights to repel a Russian invasion.In a joint statement after two days of meetings, finance ministers from the Group of 7 affirmed their commitment to help Ukraine with a mix of grants and loans. Ukraine needs approximately $5 billion per month to maintain basic government services, according to the International Monetary Fund.The $19.8 billion of financing was agreed on after the United States, which is contributing more than $9 billion in short-term financing, pressed its allies to do more to help secure Ukraine’s future. The statement did not break down how much the other Group of 7 nations will contribute.The European Commission, however, previously agreed to provide up to 9 billion euros of financial assistance. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation plan to provide an additional $3.4 billion to Ukrainian state-owned enterprises and the private sector.“We will continue to stand by Ukraine throughout this war and beyond and are prepared to do more as needed,” the statement said.The economic policymakers also acknowledged that more fallout from the war lies ahead, and they pledged on Friday to keep markets open as they combat rising food and energy prices around the world. They also said that their central banks would be closely monitoring inflation measures and the impact that rising prices are having on their economies.“We are very concerned about crises and macroeconomic developments,” Christian Lindner, Germany’s finance minister, said during a closing news conference on Friday, according to an English translation.The two-day summit on the outskirts of Bonn came at a pivotal time for the world economy, with concern mounting that a combination of war, supply chain problems and the lingering effects of the pandemic could lead to a contraction in global output. Finance ministers discussed ways to keep pressure on Russia while minimizing the damage to their economies as they debated the merits of a European embargo on Russian oil and whether seized Russian assets could be used to pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction.“The values of the international community have been totally discarded by Russia,” Mr. Lindner said.Officials from the world’s leading advanced economies discussed other areas for possible collaboration, such as combating climate change and making progress on a global tax agreement that was reached last year but faces implementation problems.But the complicated mix of foreign policy challenges and economic headwinds dominated the meetings.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned this week that Europe could be vulnerable to a recession because of its exposure to Russian energy. She does not expect a recession in the United States but said on Thursday that a “soft landing” was not guaranteed as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to tame inflation.“I think it’s conceivable there could be a soft landing, that requires both skill and luck,” Ms. Yellen told reporters on the sidelines of the Group of 7 summit. “It’s a very difficult economic situation.” More

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    In South Korea, Joe Biden Seeks to Rebuild Economic Ties Across Asia

    The president plans to unveil a new regional economic framework, but some in the region wonder whether it will be an empty exercise.PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — When President Biden arrived on his inaugural mission to Asia on Friday, the first place he headed from the airplane was not a government hall or embassy or even a military base, but a sprawling superconductor factory that represented the real battleground of a 21st-century struggle for influence in the region.The choice of destination to begin a five-day trip to South Korea and Japan underscored the challenges of Mr. Biden’s effort to rebuild American ties to a region where longtime allies have grown uncertain about Washington’s commitments amid anti-trade sentiment at home, while China has expanded its dominance in the economic arena.The president hopes to lure countries back into the American orbit despite his predecessor Donald J. Trump’s decision five years ago to abandon a far-reaching trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership — but not by rejoining the economic bloc, even though it was negotiated by the Obama administration that he served as vice president. Instead, under pressure from his liberal base at home, Mr. Biden plans to offer a far less sweeping multinational economic structure that has some in the region skeptical about what it will add up to.Mr. Biden will formally unveil the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework on Monday in Tokyo, bringing together many of the same countries from the trade partnership to coordinate policies on energy, supply chains and other issues, but without the market access or tariff reductions that powered the original partnership. Eager for American leadership to counter China, a number of countries in the region plan to sign up and hail the new alignment but privately have expressed concern that it may be an empty exercise.The framework is essentially “a new packaging of existing Biden administration priorities in this economic policy area,” said Scott A. Snyder, the director of U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. “And whether or not it really takes off depends on whether partners believe that there’s enough there there to justify being engaged.”Mr. Snyder added that he thought South Korea, for one, was taking seriously the Biden administration’s commitment to invest in the region. “I think they’re believing,” he said. “And we’ll see whether they’re whistling past the graveyard.”But even Mr. Biden’s own ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, acknowledged the uncertainty in the region over the new economic framework. Countries want to know, “what is it we are signing up for?” he told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday. Is this an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership? “Yes and no,” he said.Understand the Supply Chain CrisisThe Origins of the Crisis: The pandemic created worldwide economic turmoil. We broke down how it happened.Explaining the Shortages: Why is this happening? When will it end? Here are some answers to your questions.A New Normal?: The chaos at ports, warehouses and retailers will probably persist through 2022, and perhaps even longer.A Key Factor in Inflation: In the U.S., inflation is hitting its highest level in decades. Supply chain issues play a big role.The framework is not a traditional free trade agreement but instead an architecture for negotiation to address four major areas: supply chains, the digital economy, clean energy transformation and investments in infrastructure. Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, said it would be “a big deal” and a “significant milestone” for relations with the region.“When you hear some of the, ‘Well, we don’t quite know. We’re not sure because it doesn’t look like things have looked before,’ I say, ‘Just you wait,’” he told reporters on Air Force One as it made its way across the Pacific. “Because I think this is going to be the new model of economic arrangement that will set the terms and rules of the road for trade and technology and supply chains for the 21st century.”Mr. Sullivan said there will be “a significant roster of countries” joining the framework when Mr. Biden kicks it off on Monday, but administration officials have not identified which countries. Japan, which has signaled that it would rather the United States rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will nonetheless embrace the new framework as the best it can get at the moment, as will South Korea. Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines have indicated interest in joining, while India and Indonesia have expressed some reservations.Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam said this month that it was still not clear what the new framework would mean in concrete terms. “We are ready to work alongside the U.S. to discuss, to further clarify what these pillars entail,” he said at a forum held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.The Financial Times reported that the administration had diluted the language of the organizing statement to entice more countries to join. Some countries are concerned that the United States will force labor and environmental standards on them without the trade-offs of better trading terms, which are off the table because of liberal opposition within Mr. Biden’s party.“There’s a reason that the original T.P.P. was derailed,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, said at a hearing last month. “It would have off-shored more jobs to countries that use child labor and prison labor and pay workers almost nothing. Let me be clear: The I.P.E.F. cannot be T.P.P. 2.0.”Mr. Emanuel said the administration would describe the new framework process as a “consultation to negotiation,” as he put it. “We have to have an approach that respects countries where they are,” he said. “Meaning where Japan is or where Australia is, is not necessarily where Vietnam or Thailand or the Philippines are.”Moreover, he said, the administration wanted a framework that could survive beyond Mr. Biden’s presidency, unlike the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “We have an interest in saying we are still a player in the Pacific, and China has an interest in saying the U.S. is on its way out,” Mr. Emanuel said.Mr. Biden’s visit to the Samsung semiconductor facility immediately after disembarking from Air Force One served as a reminder of how critical the region is to his immediate priority of unsnarling the supply chain problems that have hurt American consumers back home.Shortly after landing at Osan Air Base, Mr. Biden joined President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea at the plant, praising it as a model for the type of manufacturing that the United States desperately needs to head off soaring inflation and to compete with China’s growing economic dominance.“This is an auspicious start to my visit, because it’s emblematic of the future cooperation and innovation that our nations can and must build together,” Mr. Biden said, noting that Samsung will invest $17 billion to build a similar plant in Taylor, Texas.“Our two nations work together to make the best, most advanced technology in the world,” Mr. Biden added, surrounded by monitors showing Samsung employees listening to his remarks. “And this factory is proof of that, and that gives both the Republic of Korea and the United States a competitive edge in the global economy if we can keep our supply chains resilient, reliable and secure.”Employees at the Samsung plant. Mr. Biden’s commerce secretary warned this year that the United States was facing an “alarming” shortage of semiconductors.Doug Mills/The New York TimesWhile demand for products containing semiconductors increased by 17 percent from 2019 to 2021, there has not been a comparable increase in supply, partly because of pandemic-related disruptions. As a result, automobile prices have skyrocketed and the need for more chips is likely to increase as 5G technology and electric vehicles become more widespread.The United States already faces an “alarming” shortage of the semiconductors, Gina Raimondo, Mr. Biden’s commerce secretary, warned this year, adding that the crisis had contributed to the highest level of inflation in roughly 40 years.How the Supply Chain Crisis UnfoldedCard 1 of 9The pandemic sparked the problem. More

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    U.S. Eyeing Russian Energy Sanctions Over Ukraine War, Officials Say

    BERLIN — The Biden administration is developing plans to further choke Russia’s oil revenues with the long-term goal of destroying the country’s central role in the global energy economy, current and former U.S. officials say, a major escalatory step that could put the United States in political conflict with China, India, Turkey and other nations that buy Russian oil.The proposed measures include imposing a price cap on Russian oil, backed by so-called secondary sanctions, which would punish foreign buyers that do not comply with U.S. restrictions by blocking them from doing business with American companies and those of partner nations.As President Vladimir V. Putin wages war in Ukraine, the United States and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russia that have battered its economy. But the nearly $20 billion per month that Russia continues to reap from oil sales could sustain the sort of grinding conflict underway in eastern Ukraine and finance any future aggressions, according to officials and experts.U.S. officials say the main question now is how to starve Moscow of that money while ensuring that global oil supplies do not drop, which could lead to a rise in prices that benefits Mr. Putin and worsens inflation in the United States and elsewhere. As U.S. elections loom, President Biden has said a top priority is dealing with inflation.While U.S. officials say they do not want to immediately take large amounts of Russian oil off the market, they are trying to push countries to wean themselves off those imports in the coming months. A U.S. ban on sales of critical technologies to Russia is partly aimed at crippling its oil companies over many years. U.S. officials say the market will eventually adjust as the Russian industry fades.Russia’s oil industry is already under pressure. The United States banned Russian oil imports in March, and the European Union hopes to announce a similar measure soon. Its foreign ministers discussed a potential embargo in Brussels on Monday. The Group of 7 industrialized nations, which includes Britain, Japan and Canada, agreed this month to gradually phase out Russian oil imports and their finance ministers are meeting in Bonn, Germany, this week to discuss details.“We very much support the efforts that Europe, the European Union, is making to wean itself off of Russian energy, whether that’s oil or ultimately gas,” Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state, said in Berlin on Sunday when asked about future energy sanctions at a news conference of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “It’s not going to end overnight, but Europe is clearly on track to move decisively in that direction.”“As this is happening, the United States has taken a number of steps to help,” he added.But Russian oil exports increased in April, and soaring prices mean that Russia has earned 50 percent more in revenues this year compared to the same period in 2021, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency in Paris. India and Turkey, a NATO member, have increased their purchases. South Korea is buying less but remains a major customer, as does China, which criticizes U.S. sanctions. The result is a Russian war machine still powered by petrodollars.American officials are looking at “what can be done in the more immediate term to reduce the revenues that the Kremlin is generating from selling oil, and make sure countries outside the sanctions coalition, like China and India, don’t undercut the sanctions by just buying more oil,” said Edward Fishman, who oversaw sanctions policy at the State Department after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.As President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia wages war in Ukraine, the United States and its allies have imposed a range of sanctions that have battered the Russian economy.David Guttenfelder for The New York TimesThe Biden administration is looking at various types of secondary sanctions and has yet to settle on a definite course of action, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policies still under internal consideration. The United States imposed secondary sanctions to cut off Iran’s exports in an effort to curtail its nuclear program.Large foreign companies generally comply with U.S. regulations to avoid sanctions if they engage in commerce with American companies or partner nations.“If we’re talking about Rubicons to cross, I think the biggest one is the secondary sanctions piece,” said Richard Nephew, a scholar at Columbia University who was a senior official on sanctions in the Obama and Biden administrations. “That means we tell other countries: If you do business with Russia, you can’t do business with the U.S.”But sanctions have a mixed record. Severe economic isolation has done little to change the behavior of governments from Iran to North Korea to Cuba and Venezuela.One measure American officials are discussing would require foreign companies to pay a below-market price for Russian oil — or suffer U.S. sanctions. Washington would assign a price for Russian oil that is well under the global market value, which is currently more than $100 per barrel. Russia’s last budget set a break-even price for its oil above $40. A price cap would reduce Russia’s profits without increasing global energy costs.The U.S. government could also cut off most Russian access to payments for oil. Washington would do this by issuing a regulation that requires foreign banks dealing in payments to put the money in an escrow account if they want to avoid sanctions. Russia would be able to access the money only to purchase essential goods like food and medicine.And as those mechanisms are put in place, U.S. officials would press nations to gradually decrease their purchases of Russian oil, as they did with Iranian oil.“There wouldn’t be a ban on Russian oil and gas per se,” said Maria Snegovaya, a visiting scholar at George Washington University who has studied sanctions on Russia. “Partly this is because that would send the price skyrocketing. Russia can benefit from a skyrocketing price.”But enforcing escrow payments or price caps globally could be difficult. Under the new measures, the United States would have to confront nations that are not part of the existing sanctions coalition and, like India and China, want to maintain good relations with Russia.In 2020, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on companies in China, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates for their roles in the purchase or transport of Iranian oil.A U.S.-led assault on Russia’s oil revenues would widen America’s role in the conflict.Alexey Malgavko/ReutersExperts say the measures could be announced in response to a new Russian provocation, such as a chemical weapons attack, or to give Kyiv more leverage if Ukraine starts serious negotiations with Moscow.Russia-Ukraine War: Key DevelopmentsCard 1 of 3In Mariupol. More

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    Russia’s Economic Outlook Grows ‘Especially Gloomy’ as Prices Soar

    LONDON — After sanctions hobbled production at its assembly plant in Kaliningrad, the Russian automaker Avtotor announced a lottery for free 10-acre plots of land — and the chance to buy seed potatoes — so employees could grow their own food in the westernmost fringe of the Russian empire during “the difficult economic situation.”In Moscow, shoppers complained that a kilogram of bananas had shot up to 100 rubles from 60, while in Irkutsk, an industrial city in Siberia, the price of tampons at a store doubled to $7.Banks have shortened receipts in response to a paper shortage. Clothing manufacturers said they were running out of buttons.“The economic prospects for Russia are especially gloomy,” the Bank of Finland said in an analysis this month. “By initiating a brutal war against Ukraine, Russia has chosen to become much poorer and less influential in economic terms.”Even the Central Bank of Russia has predicted a staggering inflation rate between 18 and 23 percent this year, and a falloff in total output of as much as 10 percent.It is not easy to figure out the impact of the war and sanctions on the Russian economy at a time when even using the words “war” and “invasion” are illegal. President Vladimir V. Putin has insisted that the economy is weathering the measures imposed by the United States, Europe and others.Financial maneuvers taken by Moscow helped blunt the economic damage initially. At the start of the conflict, the central bank doubled interest rates to 19 percent to stabilize the currency, and recently was able to lower rates to 14 percent. The ruble is trading at its highest level in more than two years.Empty shelves in a supermarket in Moscow in March. Food prices have shot up, especially for items like imported fruit.Vlad Karkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket, via Getty ImagesAnd even though Russia has had to sell oil at a discount, dizzying increases in global prices are causing tax revenues from oil to surge past $180 billion this year despite production cuts, according to Rystad Energy. Natural gas deliveries will add another $80 billion to Moscow’s treasury.In any case, Mr. Putin has shown few signs that pressure from abroad will push him to scale back military strikes against Ukraine.Still, Avtotor’s vegetable patch lottery and what it says about the vulnerabilities facing the Russian people, along with shortages and price increases, are signs of the economic distress that is gripping some Russian businesses and workers since the war started nearly three months ago.Analysts say that the rift with many of the world’s largest trading partners and technological powerhouses will inflict deep and lasting damage on the Russian economy.“The really hard times for the Russian economy are still in front of us,” said Laura Solanko, a senior adviser at the Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies.The stock of supplies and spare parts that are keeping businesses humming will run out in a few months, Ms. Solanko said. At the same time, a lack of sophisticated technology and investment from abroad will hamper Russia’s productive capacity going forward.The Lukoil refinery in Volgograd. Russia has had to sell oil at a discount, but its tax revenues have risen along with prices.ReutersThe Russian Central Bank has already acknowledged that consumer demand and lending are on a downhill slide, and that “businesses are experiencing considerable difficulties in production and logistics.”Ivan Khokhlov, who co-founded 12Storeez, a clothing brand that evolved from a showroom in his apartment in Yekaterinburg to a major company with 1,000 employees and 46 stores, is contending with the problem firsthand.“With every new wave of sanctions, it becomes harder to produce our product on time,” Mr. Khokhlov said. The company’s bank account in Europe was still blocked because of sanctions shortly after the invasion, while logistical disruptions had forced him to raise prices.“We face delays, disruptions and price increases,” he said. “As logistics with Europe gets destroyed, we rely more on China, which has its own difficulties too.”Hundreds of foreign firms have already curtailed their business in or withdrawn altogether from Russia, according to an accounting kept by the Yale School of Management. And the exodus of companies continued this week with McDonald’s. The company said that after three decades, it planned to sell its business, which includes 850 restaurants and franchises and employs 62,000 people in Russia.“I passed the very first McDonald’s that opened in Russia in the ’90s,” Artem Komolyatov, a 31-year-old tech worker in Moscow, said recently. “Now it’s completely empty. Lonely. The sign still hangs. But inside it’s all blocked off. It’s completely dead.”Nearby two police officers in bulletproof vests and automatic rifles stood guard, he said, ready to head off any protesters.In Leningradsky railway station, at one of the few franchises that remained open on Monday, customers lined up for more than an hour for a last taste of McDonald’s hamburgers and fries.The French automaker Renault also announced a deal with the Russian government to leave the country on Monday, although it includes an option to repurchase its stake within six years. And the Finnish paper company, Stora Enso, said it was divesting itself of three corrugated packaging plants in Russia.A closed McDonald’s in Podolsk, outside Moscow, on Monday. The company said this week it was putting its Russian business up for sale.Maxim Shipenkov/EPA, via ShutterstockMore profound damage to the structure of the Russian economy is likely to mount in the coming years even in the moneymaking energy sector.The Russia-Ukraine War and the Global EconomyCard 1 of 7A far-reaching conflict. More