Thailand joins the Indo-Pacific Framework along with 12 other countries

The 13 primary members of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) are the United States, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei, according to Biden.

Although the IPEF is presented by its members as a “commitment to a free, open, fair, inclusive, interconnected, resilient, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region”, it is also an alternative to China’s growing trade presence across the Asia-Pacific. .

With 60 percent of the world’s population, the Indo-Pacific is expected to be the largest contributor to global growth in the next 30 years.

The IPEF will focus on four policy pillars, each led by an individual organization:

  1. United EconomyLed by the US Trade Representative or USTR;
  2. Sustainable economy, Which covers issues of supply chain resilience, led by the Department of Commerce, or DOC;
  3. Clean economy, Which covers DOC-led infrastructure, clean energy and decarbonization issues;
  4. Fair economy, Which is led by the DOC and covers tax and anti-corruption issues

Decision [of Thailand to join IPEF] This came as a big surprise to analysts and scholars familiar with the protracted administration’s long-term rethinking of joining the long-awaited Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).An editorial piece published yesterday wrote the Bangkok Post.

However, this can be explained by the fact that IPEF is not a new incarnation of a tariff-based Asia trade agreement like the China-led RCEP or the now defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership.

High quality and inclusion

Unlike other free trade agreements, such as RCEP and CPTPP, it does not include negotiations to reduce tariffs among IPEF members. Speaking at the launch event in Tokyo, President Joe Biden stressed that “the key to our success will be an emphasis on high quality of structure and inclusion.”

Several countries, such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, were left out of the IPEF due to political and human rights concerns.

One issue is whether Taiwan will join the framework: a move that could upset China and complicate efforts to bring in Southeast Asian countries, many of which have close ties with China.

Seven of the 13 members of the IPEF (Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand) also include the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), originally called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP). ), Which Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump withdrew from the United States in 2017.

The US economic presence in the region is declining

After Trump pulled the United States out of the TPP, the decline in the U.S. economic presence in the region became even more pronounced when the RCEP began in January of this year. The China-sponsored mega trade agreement involves 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

China, meanwhile, criticized the IPEF at a news conference on May 12, when Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the Asia-Pacific region was “not a chessboard.” [a] Geopolitical competition, “and China rejects” small circle [that] The Cold War mentality. “

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