The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is the largest and most sweeping trade and economic agreement currently under negotiation. Announced on May 23rd, 2022, 14 member nations representing 40% of global gross domestic product are engaged in the negotiation. Current participants include Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. Canada has expressed interest in joining the IPEF, but its path forward to joining the agreement is unclear at this time despite Canadian Minister for International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng previously stating that Canada’s inclusion into the IPEF is supported by all current members.

The IPEF consists of four main pillars, with the Connected Economy pillar being negotiated by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and the Resilient Economy pillar, the Clean Economy pillar, and the Fair Economy pillar negotiated by the Department of Commerce. Formal negotiations were initiated during December 10 – 15 in Brisbane, Australia with additional in-person negotiating rounds planned for 2023. On December 20, the Commerce Department stated that it hosted an unplanned ministerial on its three pillars. It was also announced that the next negotiating round will take place in India from 8-11 February, 2023 focusing on the Commerce Department pillars.

We will update this information for major developments and announcements.  For additional information about C&M International and our work, please visit www.cmintl.com.



IPEF: What it is and Why it Matters

The United States proposed the creation of IPEF to foster closer economic cooperation with a group of nations in the Indo-Pacific region while avoiding the domestic U.S. political challenges associated with traditional trade agreements.  The other participating nations have joined in the IPEF recognizing the value of the U.S. engagement in the region. The U.S. is not in either of the two regional trade arrangements in the Indo Pacific adopted to date, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). China, the largest economy in the RCEP and an applicant to join CPTPP, is not a participant in the IPEF negotiations.

The IPEF is positioned as a more comprehensive agreement than others that have existed to date.  Its provisions will touch on trade and economic issues including the environment, women’s economic empowerment, worker rights, digital privacy, and more. This “framework” is distinct from the structure of traditional free trade deals and is designed to be inclusive and adaptable to address future challenges.

Negotiations are underway on each of the IPEF’s four central pillars, centered on trade, climate, infrastructure, and tax and anticorruption. All member countries have agreed to negotiate on all four of the IPEF’s primary pillars, with the exception of India which is not currently participating in the trade pillar.

The framework is designed to be open and collaborative. Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong stated: “The continuing global economic uncertainty has made regional and international cooperation even more crucial and urgent, to provide countries with platforms to address challenges that require collective action.” IPEF is designed to be that platform.

Formal negotiations on the IPEF were kicked off with a meeting of ministers in Los Angeles on September 8-9, 2022.  A list of negotiators at the September 8 and 9 IPEF ministerial can be found here. Member states have agreed to an aggressive timeline to finish negotiations, with monthly meetings of senior officials and several more ministerial meetings scheduled for November 2022 and January 2023. The Crowell team is monitoring the progress of the negotiations and has gathered information, accessible below. We will update this information for major developments and announcements.  For additional information about C&M International and our work, please visit www.cmintl.com.

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