US President Joe Biden announced in Tokyo on Monday that 13 countries had joined a new US-led Asia-Pacific trade initiative.
“The United States and Japan, together with 11 other countries, will launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF),” former Vice President Biden Biden said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“This framework is a commitment to working with close friends and partners in the region on the issues most critical to achieving economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” he said.
Biden was due to officially launch the framework late on Monday.
He didn’t mention countries already joining the IPEF, which the White House is claiming as a framework that will ultimately become a group of closely traded countries.
Unlike traditional trading blocks, there are no plans for IPEF members to negotiate tariffs and facilitate market access.
Instead, the program expects to unite partners through agreed standards in four key areas: the digital economy, supply chain, clean energy infrastructure and anti-corruption measures.
Since taking office in 2021, former Vice President Biden has been working to rapidly rebuild the strategic military and trade alliance that had weakened under his predecessor Donald Trump.
And the IPEF is intended to provide US allies with an alternative to China’s growing commercial presence across Asia Pacific.
But a tariff-based Asian trade agreement after Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a gigantic trading bloc revived in 2017 as a Trans-Pacific Partnership (inclusive and progressive without U.S. membership in 2018). There is no political will to return to Washington. Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
China has criticized the IPEF as an attempt to create a closed club. “It’s a deliberately open platform,” Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
Sullivan said Taiwan, an autonomous democracy in which China claims sovereignty, was not included in the initial lineup, despite being an important link in the microchip supply chain.
Despite this, Sullivan said the United States “want to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high-tech issues, including semiconductors and supply chains.”
But this will only happen “on a quantum basis”.