Jakarta, IO – The first offline ministerial meeting of the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” (IPEF) was held in Los Angeles, USA, on September 8th and 9th. The summit outlined four “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” pillars (trade, supply chain, green economy, and fair economy) and produced a common declaration on each pillar.
Except for India, all 13 other parties signed all four declarations. Because India considers that “it does not yet perceive any benefits [from joining the trade pillar],” it withdrew from the discussions and did not sign a joint statement on the pillar. The conference, coordinated by US Trade Representative Chi Tai and Commerce Secretary Raimondo, was described as a “milestone” for the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework,” developing a new model that the rest of the world may “follow.” Several nations had bilateral negotiations during the summit, stating their commitment to expand economic and trade cooperation within the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.”
The four joint statements issued at the meeting were relatively general and principled, did not exceed outside estimates, and did not answer a question that the US should have answered long ago, namely, what method the US should use to win over people’s hearts in order to maintain momentum in the negotiations. According to the US side’s statement, the follow-up discussions on the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” would take place “soon,” and the time pressure will be intense. It is widely assumed that the US will need other countries to finish discussions and domestic clearance processes before hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference next year, i.e. before November 2023.
The next best option would be to finish the job before the Biden administration’s first term ends. However, global economic and trade talks take a long period. For example, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) took ten years and 28 rounds of discussions to complete, while many nations’ internal ratification processes took more than a year. It will be extremely difficult for the US to finish the discussions on the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” in such a short time period.