• By The Financial District

U.S. Unveils Asia-Pacific Trade Framework Sans Taiwan

US President Joe Biden launched a new Asia-Pacific trade initiative Monday in Tokyo, with 13 countries including India and Japan signed up, although questions about the pact's effectiveness remain, Sebastian Smith reported for Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Photo Insert: President Joe Biden with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during the unveiling of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).

Biden formally unveiled the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) on his second day in Japan, where he held talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ahead of a regional Quad summit on Tuesday.

"I believe we'll win the competition of the 21st century together," he said at the launch, attended in person by Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and virtually by representatives from the other countries. Together, the participants account for about 40 percent of global GDP, and "there are other countries that could conceivably join us," Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters.

Unlike traditional trade blocs, there is no plan for IPEF members to negotiate tariffs and ease market access -- a tool that has become increasingly unpalatable to US voters fearful of seeing homegrown manufacturing undermined.

Instead, the program foresees integrating partners through agreed standards in four main areas: the digital economy, supply chains, clean energy infrastructure, and anti-corruption measures. IPEF is intended to offer US allies an alternative to China's growing commercial presence across the Asia-Pacific.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

The starting list of members in addition to the United States is Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. The countries touted IPEF as a framework for what will ultimately become a tight-knit group of trading nations.

"We share a commitment to a free, open, fair, inclusive, interconnected, resilient, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region," they said in a joint statement. "Deepening economic engagement among partners is crucial for continued growth, peace, and prosperity."

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