On PM Modi’s agenda, IPEF launch and meetings with top Japanese business leaders

India and countries such as Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are widely anticipated to join negotiations for the IPEF, though the US and other countries have not made any formal announcement regarding the membership.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Tokyo at the invitation of his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida to participate in the second in-person Quad Leaders Summit on May 24. (ANI PHOTO.)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Tokyo at the invitation of his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida to participate in the second in-person Quad Leaders Summit on May 24. (ANI PHOTO.)
Updated on May 22, 2022 08:21 PM IST
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New Delhi: An event to launch the US administration’s new framework for supply chains, climate action and infrastructure projects and meetings with some of Japan’s top business leaders will dominate the agenda for the first day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan on Monday.

Modi is visiting Tokyo at the invitation of his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida to participate in the second in-person Quad Leaders Summit on May 24. On Monday, he will attend the event convened by US President Joe Biden to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

India and countries such as Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are widely anticipated to join negotiations for the IPEF, though the US and other countries have not made any formal announcement regarding the membership of what is being described by American officials as an economic arrangement for the integration of Indo-Pacific economies.

Indian officials have said that New Delhi has received details of the US initiative and discussions have been held on the issue. Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Saturday discussions were going on regarding IPEF even as he acknowledged that economic cooperation is a very important segment of India’s focus on the Indo-Pacific, both in terms of harnessing opportunities for economic partnership and capacity-building.

Besides the event where IPEF will be launched by Biden and Kishida, Modi will hold separate meetings with NEC Corporation chairman Nobuhiro Endo, Uniqlo CEO Tadashi Yanai, Suzuki Motor Corporation adviser Osamu Suzuki, and Softbank Group Corporation board director Masayoshi Son.

He will also participate in a roundtable with Japanese business leaders and an interaction with representatives of the Indian community in Japan.

IPEF is being perceived as a fresh 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 is not a trade agreement and will have no impact on matters such as tariffs.

The four pillars of IPEF are fair and resilient trade, including standards for digital, labour and environment, resilient supply chains, infrastructure projects and clean energy, and tax and anti-corruption. US officials have said the framework will put a premium on flexibility and inclusion, and partners can pick and chose modules without having to sign on for all the four pillars.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Sunday dismissed suggestions that IPEF was a security arrangement, and said: “It is an economic arrangement focused around the further integration of Indo-Pacific economies, setting of standards and rules, particularly in new areas like the digital economy, and also trying to ensure that there are secure and resilient supply chains.”

He said IPEF “will not be negotiating out maritime security arrangements”, even as he dismissed suggestions by the Chinese side that the framework would be a closed arrangement. “It is by design and definition an open platform. And we do expect, in addition to the countries that join for the launch [on Monday], others will come along in the months and years ahead,” he said.

IPEF will work to create high-standard approaches to the digital economy, clean energy transition, diverse and resilient supply chains and open and transparent economic governance, Sullivan said.

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Friday, July 01, 2022