Quad Summit: Biden Stresses IPEF Importance Amid Russia-Ukraine War

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Quad Summit: Biden Stresses IPEF Importance Amid Russia-Ukraine War” – below is their description.

US President Joe Biden said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heightens the importance of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, during the Quad summit in Tokyo with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Australia’s new PM Anthony Albanese and India’s PM Narendra Modi.

“Shortly before Russia launched this invasion, my administration published our Indo-Pacific strategy to advance a free, open, connected, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific,” said Biden.

Altogether the nations involved in the IPEF constitute roughly 40% of global gross domestic product, according to the White House, which has touted its launch as a marquee accomplishment of President Joe Biden’s first trip to Asia. Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand were included, along with seven Southeast Asian countries.

The framework is the most significant US effort to engage Asia on economic matters since former President Donald Trump in 2017 withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement negotiated under the Obama administration. But unlike that trade deal, the new framework doesn’t include any tariff reductions and it’s unclear which parts are binding, making it hard to quantify the economic benefits.

“This framework is intended to advance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness for our economies,” the countries said in a joint statement. “Through this initiative, we aim to contribute to cooperation, stability, prosperity, development, and peace within the region.”

A senior administration official said the US didn’t invite China to join the framework, partly because it will be based on a set of standards the White House believes Beijing would have a hard time meeting. The US selected the initial group out of a desire to reach beyond countries that have deep economic ties with America, while also ensuring they can agree to at least one of the pillars, the official said.

The US official said the timeline for reaching substantive commitments — both binding and non-binding — will be shorter than traditional trade negotiations that include tariff reductions. The US hopes to know which countries will participate in each of the four pillars by mid-June, and aims to have substantive commitments in about 12 to 18 months, the official said.

Many countries in the region are reluctant to sign up to any agreement that doesn’t include China, which is the largest trading partner for most governments. The US offer to keep the framework open to China had been demanded in particular by countries in Southeast Asia. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam ended up participating in the framework.

China has repeatedly accused the US of seeking to contain its rise by forming economic and military alliances in the region. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy was “doomed to fail.”

“Facts will prove that the so-called ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ is essentially a strategy for creating divisions, a strategy for inciting confrontation, and a strategy for destroying peace,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The nations included in IPEF represent $34.7 trillion in global output, or about 41% of global production, compared with $31.7 trillion for TPP members, according to Bloomberg calculations. Trade with the region supports more than three million American jobs, according to the White House.

The biggest economies in IPEF include Japan and India, which are also both members of the Quad group of nations in addition to Australia.

The US didn’t invite Taiwan to join the framework, even after more than 50 senators wrote to Biden urging him to include the government in Taipei. Tensions have recently increased over Taiwan, which has long been the biggest potential military flashpoint between the US and China.

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