Mediarilisnusantara.com – Trade ministers from 14 countries participating in the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) talks have reached a significant milestone by “substantially completing” a deal to enhance the resilience and security of supply chains. The agreement, announced by the Commerce Department, is the first tangible outcome of the year-long negotiations.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo described the deal as unprecedented and highlighted its provisions, including the formation of a council to coordinate supply chain activities and a Crisis Response Network to provide early warnings of potential disruptions. The agreement also establishes an emergency communication channel for IPEF countries to seek support, enhance coordination during crises, and expedite recovery.
Raimondo emphasized the importance of such a Crisis Response Network during the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in semiconductor shortages and halted American auto production, leading to job losses. The supply chains agreement also introduces a labor rights advisory board comprising representatives from governments, workers, and employers to elevate labor standards in supply chains.
The IPEF talks serve as the Biden administration’s primary economic initiative in Asia, aiming to provide an alternative to closer ties with China. While China is not involved in the IPEF discussions, it participated in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade talks held in Detroit, which concluded without a joint statement but included a commitment to more inclusive trade.
The remaining three pillars of the IPEF talks—trade, climate transition, and labor and inclusiveness—are anticipated to be more complex and time-consuming to negotiate. Nevertheless, US officials aspire to achieve further progress by the time of the APEC leaders’ summit scheduled for November in San Francisco.
The agreement has been welcomed by Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, who emphasized its potential to strengthen supply chain resilience and connectivity. Singapore also expressed support for the introduction of a hydrogen initiative among interested IPEF partners to foster growth in this sector and support green economies.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai acknowledged that additional attention is required to address certain areas identified during the progress check-in by the ministers. Notably, the trade pillar of the IPEF talks does not cover negotiations on tariff reductions or market access aspects typically found in traditional free trade agreements.
Instead, it focuses on establishing common rules related to agriculture, labor, environmental standards, and trade facilitation. Tai expressed confidence that progress under Pillar 1 will become evident in the coming months and addressed concerns raised by US farm and industry groups about market access, stating that the goals of the IPEF are often misunderstood, emphasizing its focus on sustainability, resilience, and inclusiveness.
(Reporting by David Lawder;
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, David Gregorio andAlistair Bell)(REUTERS)