US to Develop Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

The United States (US) has plans to “research the development of an Indo-Pacific economic framework with partners,” the White House announced Wednesday, as President Joe Biden pursued East Asia diplomacy through his presence at the White House. virtual meeting with countries in the region.

The White House did not provide many details, saying only that the framework would “formulate our common goals around trade facilitation, standards for the digital and technology economy, supply chain resilience, decarbonization and clean energy, infrastructure, labor standards, and other areas.” others of mutual interest.”

While no official policy has been set, this announcement could help address concerns that the US is lagging behind in terms of regional trade relations compared to rival China. Washington does not take part in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a Beijing-backed free trade agreement, among Asia Pacific nations that make up nearly 30% of the global economy.

“The Biden administration knows that the economic order is a big weak point,” said Greg Poling, an analyst with Southeast Asia expertise at the Institute for think thank CSIS.

“What the region wants most is for the US to rejoin the CPTPP, a replacement for the Trans Pacific Partnership. And that won’t happen.”

That, he said, left the US with few options, such as this new framework.

“I don’t think a lot of people are convinced, but a bunch of economic initiatives is the best they can do given the political realities in Washington,” Poling said.

The decision was announced following Biden’s inclusion on Wednesday morning in a virtual East Asia summit that plunged the US into deeper regional diplomacy after a four-year hiatus.

This group of countries has concerns about China’s growing ambitions, North Korean defiance, and post-coup conditions in Myanmar.

This annual East Asia Summit brings together 18 countries, including the US, Australia, China and Russia, and was initiated by 10 ASEAN countries. [jm/lt]

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