LOS ANGELES: As the first ministerial meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) kicked off here on Thursday, India said it will take any decision based on its “national interest.” Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal said at the end of a day One of deliberations that the 14 member countries had a “very useful engagement, laying the ground to find a robust framework in areas of mutual interest.” The primary agenda is to avoid supply chain disruptions seen during Covid due to over-dependence on one country that has virtually emerged as the factory to the world in the recent years.
Goyal also held bilateral discussions with US secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai, among other countries, on the sidelines of the ongoing IPEF. “The climate is favourable for further expansion of trade ties with the US and for more investment by American companies in India. We are in agreement to have a resilient supply chain between the two countries,” Goyal said.
India is a big provider of IT services to US companies. “Work from home has meant that our people in tier III and IV cities are providing cost-effective (IT) solutions to US companies. After meeting several American companies, it is clear that the hiring plans for tech support from India are staggering. We will soon have the next trade policy engagement with the US,” Goyal said.
He also met the trade ministers of Japan and Vietnam. “Areas of mutual interest were discussed. We plan to increase exports to both these countries. All these efforts will lead to significant job creation in India,” Goyal said.
At the start of IPEF, US secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo said: “It is time for the US to have an affirmative economic vision for the region. The 14 member countries represent 40% of the world’s GDP and include some of the fastest growing economies in the world. We have to address challenges related to supply chain, climate change and create a roadmap for cooperation. We have to move quickly to save small businesses and jobs through resilient supply chains, clean energy tech and fair economies by eliminating corruption. We have to create jobs in our countries. There is no limit what we can do together.”
US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai spoke about shared priorities. The IPEF’s creation was announced by US President Joe Biden this May. Apart from a virtual and an informal meet, this is the first time a ministerial meeting of the framework is taking place in person.
“We have to continue the momentum. Connectivity and trust between the key markets is needed. We have to implement WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. We have to streamline movement of goods across borders to help our farmers, have strong labour and environmental standards for a sustainable growth. IPEF’s commitment is to the region. USTR will implement President Biden’s vision who says no one nation can do this alone. We have to take steps forward together,” Tai said.
The 14-members of IPEF include Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. Unlike trade agreements, This framework does not look for providing greater market access. Its four pillars are: connected economy (trade), resilient economy (supply chains), clean economy (green tech), and fair economy (anti-corruption).