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US announces major economic deal in Asia in bid to boost profile, against China


US President Joe Biden, pictured here on Thursday, April 21, 2022, launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) with a dozen initial partners.

Yuri Gripas | abaca | Bloomberg | Getty Images

In a bid to improve its economic profile and create another counterweight to China in Asia, the United States on Monday announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework with Asian partners.

It is a broad plan designed to help extend US “economic leadership” in the Indo-Pacific region. The group wants to set international rules on the digital economy, supply chains, decarbonization and regulations for workers.

It is important to note that the IPEF is not a free trade agreement. US President Joe Biden faces political pressure from left and right in the United States to avoid free trade agreements.

It is also not a security pact and is separate from the Quad Defense Group which includes the United States, Japan, India and Australia, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake told reporters on Sunday. Sullivan.

Although it avoids trade agreements, the United States wants to raise its profile in the Asian economic field, where China is the dominant country despite American allies Japan and South Korea, which have large economies and l India, a member of the Quad, which is growing by leaps and bounds.

The United States must “strengthen its economic competitiveness in the region,” according to Ali Wyne, senior analyst for Global Macro at Eurasia Group.

“Even countries that have significant and growing apprehensions about China’s foreign policy and strategic goals understand that they cannot decouple significantly from its economy in the near term,” Wyne said, “so the Biden administration will strive to gain maximum traction for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.”

Biden is in Tokyo this week to meet with regional leaders about IPEF and the Quad.

US officials have been careful to avoid mentioning China in IPEF discussions and have denied that it is a “closed” group, as China has claimed.

Chinese state-controlled media Global Times said on Saturday that “the main purpose of Biden’s trip to South Korea and Japan is to try to form a new political posture against China, building an alliance around Washington in the Asia-Pacific region”.

Sullivan told reporters on Sunday he was not surprised “that China is concerned about the number of countries, the diversity of countries that have expressed interest and enthusiasm for IPEF.”

This is breaking news and will be updated shortly.

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