President Joe Biden receives a salute from a guard of honor with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ahead of their meeting in Tokyo on May 23, 2022.
Tokyo CNN  — 

President Joe Biden on Monday said the thirteen nations joining his long-sought economic plan for Asia were “signing up to work toward an economic vision that will deliver for all people on Earth.”

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is Biden’s attempt at engaging a region coming increasingly under the influence of China. He unveiled it as he began the second leg of his debut tour of Asia. The announcement was one of the centerpieces of Biden’s visit to the continent, which began last week in South Korea and is continuing this week in Japan.

“We’re here today for one simple purpose: the future of the 21st Century economy is going to be largely written in the Indo-Pacific. Our region,” Biden said as he launched the plan.

“This framework should drive a race to the top,” he said.

Biden is walking a delicate balance in revealing the economic framework. While Asian nations have been clamoring for a way to partner with the United States to reduce dependance on China, the President is also facing protectionist sentiments at home, where economic pain in the form of higher prices has proved the central issue in November’s midterm elections.

Biden said Monday he did not believe a recession was inevitable, but acknowledged the pain was real.

“It’s bad,” he said, suggesting later that improvement could be a long time coming.

“This is going to be a haul. This is going to take some time,” he said, arguing things could have been much worse had he not taken steps like cultivating foreign investments in the US economy.