India will work with Indo-Pacific partners for inclusive, flexible IPEF: PM Modi
US President Joe Biden said in Tokyo today that 13 countries, including India, will be part of the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity
NEW DELHI: India will work with the United States and other partners to set up an “inclusive and flexible” Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, as the country joined the new US-led trade initiative that aims to counter China’s aggressive expansion in the region.
Earlier, US President Joe Biden told a news conference alongside Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo that 13 countries will be part of the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, or IPEF.
In his remarks at the launch event, PM Modi described the unveiling of IPEF as the declaration of a collective desire to make the Indo-Pacific region an engine of global economic growth. Thanking Biden for the “important initiative”, he said it is necessary to find common and creative solutions to the region’s economic challenges.
“India will work with all of you for establishing an IPEF which is both inclusive and flexible,” Modi said, speaking in Hindi.
He listed trust, transparency and timeliness as the foundation of resilient supply chains. “I believe the framework will help strengthen these three pillars and this will put the Indo-Pacific region on the path to progress, peace and prosperity,” he said.
Modi noted the Indo-Pacific region has always been a centre of manufacturing, economic activities, trade and investments, and said India has historically been at the centre of trade flows in the region. He pointed out that the oldest commercial port in India was located at Lothal in his home state of Gujarat.
The event in Tokyo marked the launch of discussions for IPEF. Besides the in-person participation of Biden and Kishida, the leaders of Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam joined the event virtually.
IPEF seeks to strengthen economic partnership among participating countries, with the objective of enhancing resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness and competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific, the external affairs ministry said.
“With the launch of the process today to establish the IPEF, partner countries will begin discussions focusing on strengthening economic cooperation and achieving shared goals,” the ministry said.
India is committed to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, and believes deepening economic engagement among partners is crucial for continued growth, peace and prosperity.
“India is keen to collaborate with partner countries under the IPEF and work towards advancing regional economic connectivity, integration and boosting trade and investment within the region,” the ministry added.
Biden earlier said the IPEF is a “commitment to working with our close friends and partners in the region on challenges that matter most to ensuring economic competitiveness in the 21st Century”.
US officials said the IPEF is an open platform and other countries can join the initiative as it moves forward.
Unlike traditional trade blocs, IPEF members won’t negotiate tariffs or ease market access. The framework is perceived as a bid by the US to assume a larger role in the economic sphere and regain credibility following former president Donald Trump’s decision in early 2017 to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
IPEF will integrate partner countries through agreed standards in four key areas – digital economy, supply chains, infrastructure projects and clean energy, and tax and anti-corruption measures. The framework will put a premium on flexibility and inclusion, and partners can pick and choose modules without having to sign on for all four pillars.