First US-led Indo-Pacific economic framework hailed as ‘incredible success’
United States: The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework talks, led by the United States and involving 14 countries as part of Washington’s efforts to counter China’s influence in the region, on Friday focused on trade ties and of investment. Finished with agreed guidelines for improvement. But a few details on how these will be implemented.
IPEF’s four main focus areas, the economic components of the Indo-Pacific Strategy unveiled by President Joe Biden in May, are trade, supply chain resilience, clean energy and a ” fair economy”.
These regions are intended to respond to criticism that, despite being an important security partner in the Indo-Pacific, the United States cannot counter China’s growing economic weight.
Without going into details, U.S. Trade Representative Catherine Tai, who co-hosted the inaugural meeting in Los Angeles with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, said the meeting was an opportunity to strengthen our partnership and bridge the gaps that make us work together. ? To meet the challenges and opportunities that define the 21st century.
Raimondo continued, “Our first one-on-one meeting was an undeniable success. I am proud of the progress we have made and look forward to moving this project forward.
The fact that many allies and regional partners would prefer a U.S. victory, wanting a trade deal that eases U.S. tariffs and other import barriers, is a major weakness of the U.S. initiative, analysts say.
But given that American voters are fed up with multilateral trade deals, all of this has become politically impossible.
Early in his presidency in 2017, former President Donald Trump pulled the world’s largest economy out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade deal.
“We need to take advantage of IPEF and make this opportunity a reality,” said Christine McDaniel, senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.
“Trade facilitation is excellent, and connecting our infrastructure to their infrastructure is important. But if you do all of that and still have to pay the 20% tariff, that defeats the purpose.
US importers and exporters agreed that the Los Angeles meeting was instrumental in establishing the IPEF benchmark, but stressed that more work remains to be done.
The National Foreign Trade Council, a 100-member group, said in a statement that the hard work begins now.
We urge nations to quickly capitalize on this momentum and negotiate commitments that will have real economic impact.
India’s decision not to join the trade column for unknown reasons is a reminder of how difficult it will be for IPEF to reconcile often divergent views.
The difficulty is that there are 14 different ministers, each representing a different economic, bureaucratic and political environment. Tai said many problematic issues would be resolved in bilateral talks with India.
This is perhaps the most difficult part of this exercise.
In their closing statement on Friday, Raimondo and Tai praised the “zealousness” shown during the talks and said the 14 member states would continue to make progress across IPEF’s four economic pillars.
The objectives of the target include establishing strong guidelines needed to promote inclusive growth, cooperation to prevent future supply chain disruptions, encouraging investment in clean energy and carbon capture, and the fight against corruption. Try.
Although China was not specifically mentioned in the closing remarks, the objectives of the meeting and IPEF clearly play a role in US efforts to counter Beijing.
This is demonstrated by the organization’s focus on international standards, openness and the rule of law, as well as its focus on strong supply chains when it comes to “free and fair” trade. equity” and national security. In each of these areas, the United States has been critical of China.
The goal is further demonstrated by the numberless structure of IPEF, which mirrors similar coalition initiatives launched by the Biden administration.
These include the Ocus Coalition, a security agreement between Australia, Britain and the United States that aims to curb China’s growing regional influence, and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad , which brings together the United States, Australia, India and Japan.
Beijing has repeatedly referred to these moves as an expression of “Cold War” thinking and “faction” mentality. At the IPEF launch in March, Beijing described the initiative as an attempt to “trigger a bloc confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region”.
China has also tried hard to strengthen its ties and show that it has friends.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Central Asia in mid-September for bilateral talks and a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group of 18 nations that Beijing convened in 2015. It was announced this week by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
It would be Xi’s first trip outside China since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, underscoring the importance of the group. The trip also sparked rumors that Xi could meet Vladimir Putin in the region.
On Friday, Biden promoted another important economic initiative, which was to clean up his country’s mess by bolstering American manufacturing, particularly when it comes to advanced semiconductors. Beijing’s Made in China 2025 economic roadmap puts a heavy emphasis on chip production.
At the grand opening of a $20 billion Intel chip factory in Ohio, Biden told the assembled crowd, “We need to make these chips right here in America.”
Biden added, wearing aviator sunglasses, “America is back.” “The chip industry will be made in America in the future.”
Iden’s visit to the crucial election state comes after he signed the $53 billion Chips and Science Act, which was approved by both houses of the US Congress.
With massive machinery in the background, Biden said, “It’s no wonder the Chinese Communist Party has actively lobbied corporate America against this law.
Ministers from countries that collectively account for 40% of global economic output – Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States and Vietnam – have participated in this week-long talks in Los Angeles.
IPEF has yet to set a date for its next meeting, according to Raimondo, but added that it expects it to happen in the first half of 2023.
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