The United States and 13 nations on Sept. 9 concluded the first round of in-person meetings for the Indo–Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) with a consensus on ministerial statements for four key pillars.
The talks in Los Angeles included ministers from Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the Biden administration launched the IPEF in May to develop “a modern economic arrangement” that will protect labor rights, combat climate change, and build resilient supply chains.
"Our intention now is to move towards negotiations with our partners on each pillar, with the first round of discussions taking place after this ministerial."
The IPEF will not include tariff cuts that are the bedrock of traditional free trade deals, but the talks are part of a U.S. effort to reengage economically with countries in Asia.
India Opts Out of Trade PillarIndian Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that India will join three pillars of the framework focusing on supply chains, tax and anti-corruption, and clean energy, but will opt out of the trade pillar for now.
“We have to see what benefits member countries will derive and whether any conditionalities on aspects like the environment may discriminate against developing countries who have the imperative to provide low cost and affordable energy to meet the needs of our growing economy.”
The U.S.-led IPEF is supposed to fill the void left after the United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.