President Biden on Monday announced the launch of a long-awaited economic plan for the Asia Pacific meant to counter China, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).
The plan was launched while Biden was in Tokyo on his first trip to Asia as president. The IPEF includes the US and 12 other nations: Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“We’re here today for one simple purpose: the future of the 21st Century economy is going to be largely written in the Indo-Pacific. Our region,” Biden said from Tokyo. “This framework should drive a race to the top.”
In a joint statement, the 13 countries said the plan was meant to increase cooperation on issues including supply chains, trade, clean energy, and anti-corruption efforts. But at this point, the details of the IPEF haven’t been worked out, and the launch is a mostly symbolic move meant as a message to Beijing.
In a press conference on the IPEF, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the framework was meant to offer “Indo-Pacific countries an alternative to China’s approach to these critical issues.”
The founding members of the IPEF still have to work out the details of how to engage with each other in these areas, and their parliaments will need to ratify any new trade deals. The 13 nations will also discuss with each other the possibility of admitting other countries into the IPEF.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China welcomes new initiatives aimed at strengthening regional cooperation but opposes efforts to create division. “The Asia-Pacific should become a high ground for peaceful development, not a geopolitical gladiatorial arena,” he said.