New York: President Joe Biden announced in Tokyo that 13 countries have joined a new, US-led Asia-Pacific trade initiative touted as a counterweight to China’s aggressive expansion in the region.
The members of the framework are the US, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the White House said in a statement.
“The United States is an Indo-Pacific economic power, and expanding US economic leadership in the region is good for American workers and businesses – as well as for the people of the region,” the White House said.
“IPEF will enable the United States and our allies to decide on rules of the road that ensure American workers, small businesses, and ranchers can compete in the Indo-Pacific.”
The statement said that the top item on the agenda of the framework is to tackle inflation. “This framework will help lower costs by making our supply chains more resilient in the long term, protecting us against costly disruptions that lead to higher prices for consumers,” it added.
Unlike traditional trade blocs, there is no plan for IPEF members to negotiate tariffs and ease market access — a tool that has become increasingly unpalatable to US voters fearful of undermining homegrown manufacturing.
Instead, the program foresees integrating partners through agreed standards in four main areas: the digital economy, supply chains, clean energy infrastructure, and anti-corruption measures.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the IPEF is a declaration of a collective desire to make the Indo-Pacific region an engine of global economic growth.