Biden Announces 13-Nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a New Collective for Asia-Pacific Relations

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President Joe Biden is launching a new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) with 12 other countries in the region, which together are signing up as the first members of the economic partnership focusing on the Asia-Pacific.

“This framework is a commitment to working with our close friends and partners in the region on challenges that matter most to ensuring economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” Biden said during a visit to Tokyo.

The new collective won’t include China or Taiwan.

Indo-Pacific leaders are congregating in Tokyo for a second Quad Summit. In addition to launching the IPEF, Biden will hold distinct bilateral meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and recently sworn-in Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

According to a May 22 White House press gaggle, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said a potential Taiwanese invasion “won’t be part of the formal agenda of the Quad,” but the countries will discuss “significant security issues in the Indo-Pacific.”

Sullivan told reporters that the United States continues to work closely with Taiwan, looking to “deepen our economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high-technology issues, including on semiconductors and supply chains,” considering the importance of the self-ruled island in global supply chains. He also reiterated U.S. support for the One China policy guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, three joint communiques, and six assurances.

Ahead of the formal launch of the U.S.-led framework, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a May 22 statement that the United States was forming “small circles” under the banner of “freedom and openness” to contain China.

“Facts will prove that the so-called Indo-Pacific strategy is in essence a strategy to create division, to incite confrontation, and to undermine peace,” he said.

On whether IPEF will be a “closed club,” as alleged by Beijing, Sullivan said it has already secured a wide-ranging membership and that “in addition to the countries that join for the launch tomorrow, others will come along in the months and years ahead.”

The IPEF is “not a security arrangement” and will deal with mostly economic policies, focusing on digital economies and “secure and resilient supply chains,” he said.

By Naveen Athrappully

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