Hot Topics in International Trade – June 2022 – United States Launches Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in the South Pacific | Braumiller Law Group, PLLC

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On May 23 in Tokyo, Japan, the United States and other countries in the Pacific region launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (“IPEF”). Countries included are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The White House says these countries account for 40% of global gross domestic profit (GDP), and that the Indo-Pacific region supports more than 3 million American jobs and is the source of about $900 billion in direct investment. foreigners in the United States.

The four pillars of IPEF

According to the fact sheet released by the White House, the purpose of IPEF rests on four general “pillars” or concepts of engagement:

  • Connected economy: The framework will focus on sharing cross-border data flows and developing strong labor and environmental standards and corporate responsibility provisions. These include topics of online privacy and discriminatory and unethical use of artificial intelligence.
  • Resilient economy: The framework will establish early warning systems, map critical mineral supply chains, improve traceability in key industries and coordinate diversification efforts.
  • Clean economy: The framework will focus on clean energy, decarbonization and infrastructure, including the areas of renewable energy, carbon removal, energy efficiency standards and new measures to tackle methane emissions .
  • Fair economy: The framework will enact and enforce effective tax, anti-money laundering and anti-corruption regimes that are consistent with existing multilateral obligations under the World Trade Organization, including exchange of tax information, criminalization of corruption compliance with UN standards, and effective implementation of beneficial ownership recommendations.

The White House hosted a recorded press call on the four pillars of IPEF with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The transcript of the executive’s recorded press call can be viewed on the White House website here.

IPEF and TPP

The IPEF is an important step for the United States to strengthen its commercial influence in the region – a step taken nearly seven years after the drafting of the Trans-Pacific Partnership known as the TPP. The TPP was a trade agreement designed to lower tariff and non-tariff barriers in the Pacific region between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru , Singapore, Vietnam and the United States – with the United States as the only country to have withdrawn from the agreement so far.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP on January 23, 2017 when the administration determined that the TPP terms would do more harm than good to domestic industries and workers. In the recorded press call, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai addressed the U.S. position on the TPP, saying:

“As for the TPP, I think the biggest issue was that we didn’t have the support at home to push it through. If you look at the years 2015 and 2016, and despite Herculean efforts, it couldn’t get through Congress. And then, in 2017, it was President Trump who pulled the United States out of it. I think there is a very, very strong lesson here: this TPP, as it was envisaged, was ultimately something quite fragile and that the United States was not able to implement. . »

In addition, an important difference between the TPP and the current IPEF is that the IPEF, in its current form, contains no provisions on market access or tariff reduction. This has become the framework’s biggest criticism, although IPEF countries may address tariff reduction at future summits.

Taiwan, China and IPEF

It should be noted that Taiwan was not included in the launch of the framework following recent criticism from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which declared on May 24 that the IPEF “will only undermine peace and stability. regional and eastern doomed to failand that the framework has created a “political and military confrontation by ganging up with certain countries” and that the framework “should be open and inclusive” to all countries, such as China. These statements by the Chinese ministry came shortly after the United States pledged to defend Taiwan in a military conflict with China. Including Taiwan in regional trade agreements, while excluding China, would be a difficult political decision due to Taiwan’s controversial political status. Taiwan is known to the World Trade Organization as “Chinese Taipei” or “The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu” and many countries, including the United States, adhere to the “One China” that the People’s Republic of China has ultimate sovereignty over Taiwan.

However, in the taped press call, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said “on the issue of Taiwan. . . I just met Minister John Deng in Bangkok. . . so stay tuned for that” and that IPEF will be open to new members based on criteria established by IPEF. There may be more to come with Taiwan regarding US trade, even if it is not included in the IPEF.

For updates regarding IPEF, visit the White House Briefing Room at www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/.

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