Jun 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First look: Yellen plans first Asia swing

Janet Yellen at a lectern
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks at a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the G7 on May 18 in Germany. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will visit Japan and South Korea next month while in Asia for the G20, as the Biden administration pushes nations to curtail purchases of Russian oil, an administration official tells Axios.

Why it matters: At the G7 leaders summit in Germany, Western allies and Japan are close to finalizing a price cap on Russian oil — a novel, and untested, way to hit the Kremlin's balance sheet. Yellen's played a key role in developing the price caps. But officials know the strategy's success depends, in part, on how many countries sign up. That involves building a coalition in the Indo-Pacific region.

  • In Tokyo and Seoul, Yellen will make clear that limiting Russian revenue from oil is a key priority for the Biden administration.
  • With oil traded on the global market, Russia has still been able to export around 4 million barrels a day, with China and India emerging as key buyers.

The big picture: Yellen's first trip to Asia as treasury secretary is being built around the G20 economic summit in Indonesia in mid-July.

  • Biden has said he would support Russia expulsion from the G20, a step that would further isolate Vladimir Putin on the international stage.
  • Global supply chain disruptions, consumer prices, food security and agricultural shortages caused by the war in Ukraine also are on the agenda at the gathering of finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 biggest economies.

Between the lines: The White House doesn’t want to entirely shut down Russia’s oil exports, which would lead to a massive increase in the price of crude and high gas prices in the U.S. and around the world.

  • Officials also know that solving global supply chain issues will require a coordinated response.
  • Yellen has warned China, as well as other nations, not to help Russia evade international sanctions.

What we're watching: Yellen has no stop planned in China.

  • Then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made his first trip to China in March of President Obama’s first year in office.
  • President Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited in May of Trump’s second year.
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