ipef: Indo-Pacific Economic Framework with countries like India, Aus is a better fit for today: US Trade Chief

President Joe Biden’s trade chief defended an economic agreement the US is negotiating with 13 other countries, saying it will build relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific and address the world’s current challenges by strengthening supply chains.
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, is a better fit for today than the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, according to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The latter deal was reached among 11 nations that were forced to change their original pact after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from it in 2017.
Countries are looking for solutions to supply chain snarls caused by the coronavirus and the effects on world energy and food markets from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Tai said on Wednesday night at a dinner in New York.

The desire among nations to promote resilience, sustainability and inclusion is “quite different from the pressures and the aspirations that we were pursuing just five, seven, ten years ago when we were negotiating what is now the CPTPP,” Tai said at the event hosted by the National Committee on US-China Relations.

IPEF is the most significant US economic engagement in the region since Trump abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiated under President Barack Obama. But some lawmakers and business executives criticized Biden’s new effort earlier this year for stopping short of reducing tariffs, as the CPTPP did.
US allies in Asia would also have preferred a more traditional trade deal that offered greater access to US markets like the CPTPP did, but have signed on to the IPEF as the Biden administration’s offer.
By keeping tariff changes out of the IPEF, the administration likely can avoid the necessity of seeking a congressional vote to put it into place. That would sidestep one of the biggest obstacles for the TPP, which become a political punching bag for Trump as well as for candidate Bernie Sanders during the 2016 US election.
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