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May 24, 2022 / 13:19

Vietnam highlights multilateralism at Indo-Pacific forum

The framework is a new kind of trade agreement focusing on an interconnected, clean, resilient, and fair economy.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh highlighted multilateralism at the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh attends the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) on May 23. Photo: VGP

Chinh stressed the need of adjusting the growth model and economic connections towards sustainability and resiliency for the framework consisting of Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, accounting for 40% of the global GDP.

He emphasized the role of international unity on the basis of sincerity, trust, and responsibility at the hybrid event held in Tokyo with the attendance of Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, India’s PM Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol, New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern, Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong, and Economic Ministers of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and a representative of Australia’s Foreign Ministry.

The Vietnamese PM suggested the people-centered cooperation which requires an approach that is open, inclusive, balanced, in accordance with international law, and for mutual interests.

Vietnam supported discussions with ASEAN member states and other partners for peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and the world while promoting an independent, self-reliant, and integration economy for further recovery.

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is a new kind of trade agreement that the US is seeking to push among countries of the region. Unlike a traditional trade agreement, the IPEF will be an executive agreement (or agreements) not requiring congressional approval.

As previously announced, the IPEF will focus on four policy pillars, namely: Connected economy, which covers fair and resilient trade topics including the seven subtopics of labor, environment, and climate, digital economy, agriculture, transparency and good regulatory practices, competition policy, and trade facilitation; Resilient economy, which covers supply chain resilience topics; Clean economy, which covers infrastructure, clean energy, and decarbonization topics; and Fair economy, which covers tax and anti-corruption topics.

The IPEF was launched seven months after Biden first spoke about it at the East Asia Summit (EAS) in October 2021 where he said the US will “explore with partners the development of an Indo-Pacific economic framework that will define our shared objectives around trade facilitation, standards for the digital economy and technology, supply chain resiliency, decarbonization and clean energy, infrastructure, worker standards, and other areas of shared interest.”

This framework is considered one of the pillars in the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy announced in February 2022.

 Leaders of the regional countries join the conference held in Tokyo on May 23. Source: The Hindu BusinessLine

At the conference, participants discussed the development of a future-focused economic cooperation agenda. In addition, a joint statement was released in which the countries vow to establish the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity. This framework is intended to advance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness for their economies.

The statement shows that these countries are also continuing to identify additional areas of cooperation based on consultations among partners to further their shared interests, with a view to advancing regional economic connectivity and integration. 

“We look forward to jointly creating conducive environments to boost flows of commerce, trade, and investments amongst our economies, and to enhancing standards and access to opportunities for our workers, companies, and peoples in our combined markets,” said the statement.