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Biden unveils Indo-Pacific economic framework

President Biden on Monday announced a new framework meant to guide U.S. economic involvement in the Indo-Pacific over the long term while in Japan as part of his first trip to Asia as commander in chief.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) aims to deepen trade ties between the U.S. and a dozen other countries signing onto it — Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Taiwan is not among the group, despite bipartisan calls from lawmakers that the island nation be included in the framework.

According to a White House fact sheet, the framework will focus on trade, supply chains, climate change and anti-corruption. The White House billed the new effort as a way to lower domestic inflation over the long term, something Biden has singled out as his top priority.

“The United States is an Indo-Pacific economic power, and expanding U.S. economic leadership in the region is good for American workers and businesses — as well as for the people of the region,” the fact sheet states.

“IPEF will enable the United States and our allies to decide on rules of the road that ensure American workers, small businesses, and ranchers can compete in the Indo-Pacific,” it says. “This framework will help lower costs by making our supply chains more resilient in the long term, protecting us against costly disruptions that lead to higher prices for consumers.”

While the fact sheet does not mention China, the framework will be widely viewed as an effort to counter Beijing’s growing influence in the region.

Biden, whose trip has included stops in South Korea and Japan, is appearing at the Izumi Garden Gallery in Tokyo to deliver remarks on the long-awaited framework Monday afternoon, following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

Biden is likely to receive criticism for Taiwan not being included in the framework’s launch. A bipartisan group of senators wrote to Biden last week asking that he include Taiwan in the framework to demonstrate U.S. support for the country at a time it is facing threats from China.

“The more economic engagement U.S. and allies and partners have with Taiwan, the stronger our collective resilience against coercion,” the group, led by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), wrote.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the value of tangible economic support by the United States and like-minded allies and partners, and the same is true for Taiwan. Including Taiwan in the IPEF would be an invaluable signal of our rock-solid commitment to Taiwan and its prosperity and freedom,” they added.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed Sunday that Taiwan would not be part of the framework launch and insisted the U.S. is pursuing deeper economic ties with Taiwan “on a bilateral basis.”

“We are looking to deepen our economic partnership with Taiwan, including on high-technology issues, including on semiconductors and supply chains,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One.

The framework is broken down into four “pillars” focused on establishing new “rules of the road” for trade and the digital economy, boosting cooperation on supply chains, setting new climate change commitments and working to crack down on money laundering and bribery.

According to the White House, the countries will set up an “early warning system” and map out critical mineral supply chains to better anticipate and prevent disruptions in global supply chains like the world has experienced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: The Hill

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