Joe Biden establishes a new economic partnership in the Asia Pacific region with 13 countries

US President Joe Biden announced on Monday in Tokyo the launch of a new economic partnership in the Asia-Pacific region. According to China, this economic framework for the Indo-Pacific region, which includes 13 first countries, is “doomed to failure.”

It is a project that China views with a bleak view: US President Joe Biden announced, on Monday, May 23 in Tokyo, the launch of a new economic partnership in the Asia-Pacific region with the participation of 13 first countries, including the United States and Japan.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is not a free trade agreement, but provides for greater integration among member countries in four main areas: the digital economy, supply chain procurement, green energy, and anti-corruption.

“It is a commitment to work with our close friends and partners in the region, on the most critical challenges to ensuring economic competitiveness in the 21st century.And century,” the US president added.

The IPEF initially includes 13 countries: the United States, Japan, India and Australia – the four countries that make up the diplomatic format for the “Quartet” that will meet on Tuesday in Tokyo – plus Brunei, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Niue. Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“We share a commitment to creating a free, open, equitable, inclusive, interconnected, resilient, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” the countries, which collectively account for about 40% of global GDP, said in a joint statement.

Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, said the IPEF, as an “open platform,” may eventually welcome other countries.

Beijing said the project was “doomed to fail.”

It seems clear that this US initiative aims to offer an alternative to China in the Asia-Pacific region, the world’s second economic power with increasing influence in the region.

Jake Sullivan emphasized that it was an “open platform” because it was designed and defined as such, but Beijing feels deliberately left out and has already made that clear.

On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who considers the US project “dedicated” to failure, criticized Washington for seeking to “make small groups in the name of freedom and openness” in the hope of “containing China.”

Under Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s predecessor in the White House, the United States in 2017 withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the wide-ranging multilateral free trade agreement that was the subject of a new treaty in 2018 without Washington.

Joe Biden has also made it clear that he does not intend to relaunch major free trade agreements, in the face of American public opinion that primarily sees these treaties as a threat to US jobs.

However, while welcoming the IPEF, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday reiterated Japan’s desire to see the United States finally join the TPP successor.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo emphasized that the IPEF is respected by the business community in the Asia-Pacific region, which is “increasingly looking for alternatives to China”.

Partnership without Taiwan

But various experts polled by AFP are currently questionable.

Says Robert Carnell, chief Pacific economist at Dutch bank ING.

But he added that emerging countries in the region may be less sensitive to this historical legacy than “robust” Chinese investment.

Washington is trying to “sow discord” with the IPEF. But if it’s not a free trade agreement, this partnership risks being “too soft,” especially since many Asia-Pacific countries don’t want to offend China, says Kazuhiro Maishima, a specialist in US politics at Sophia University in Tokyo.

To illustrate this shaky line, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hailed the IPEF, a “precious sign” according to him that the Biden administration “understands the importance of economic diplomacy in Asia,” while judging China’s “positive” economic initiatives also in the region. In an interview with the Japanese daily Nikkei published on Monday.

Another obvious weakness of the IPEF is the notable absence of Taiwan among the participating countries, while this island – which Beijing would like to see return to its fold – is a global hub for the semiconductor and other technologies industry. keys.

Jake Sullivan said that Washington “wants to strengthen its strategic partnership with Taiwan,” including in the field of semiconductors and supply chains, but that this will happen “on a bilateral basis.”

with AFP

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