Photo: YOMIURI SHIMBUN/AP PHOTO/PICTURE ALLIANCE / Deutsche Welle
The United States, Japan and eleven other Oceanic and Southeast Asian countries announced this Monday (05.23.2022) the creation of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a new regional cooperation scheme aimed at promoting trade and investment between its partners. The multilateral organization was presented in Tokyo by US President Joe Biden.
The member economies of the pact represent 40 percent of the global gross domestic product, and together with the two aforementioned countries include Australia, Brunei, South Korea, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. IPEF members “share a commitment to a free, open, fair, inclusive, interconnected, resilient, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region”, and with the “potential to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth”, states the joint statement.
The pact is not a free trade agreement, but “a commitment to work with our close friends and partners in the region, in the face of challenges to guarantee economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” explained the US president. The IPEF deliberately leaves China out, as its objective is to enhance the presence of the United States in the region.
Open doors, but with conditions
The thirteen countries recognize “the interconnection of their economic interests” and highlight the need to “deepen their economic commitments” to “maintain growth, peace and prosperity.” One of IPEF’s main areas of cooperation will be to “secure supply chains” of strategic importance such as raw materials or semiconductors, the availability of which has been reduced by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on China and the war in Ukraine. .
Another part of the common project will be to support the development of clean energy, decarbonization and infrastructure, for which it is contemplated to “mobilize financial resources”, “cooperation in technologies” and “technical assistance”, according to the joint declaration. The members of the Economic Framework leave the doors open to new partners who share objectives, interests and ambitions”.