U.S. offers all-pain, no-gain economic deal to Southeast Asian leaders: report

(Xinhua) 09:51, May 17, 2022

NEW YORK, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The Joe Biden administration used last week's summit with Southeast Asian leaders to talk up his forthcoming Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which tries to make up for Washington's new unwillingness to negotiate the kind of market-opening trade deals Asian leaders like, reported Foreign Policy (FP) on Wednesday.

First mooted last year, the idea was dreamed up by U.S. officials to fill the gaping hole left in Washington's Indo-Pacific strategy when then U.S. President Donald Trump walked out of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in 2017, said the report authored by James Crabtree, an FP columnist.

Biden and his team are "by all accounts set against the CPTPP, seeing such trade deals as a sure route to domestic political calamity. Hence, the IPEF: designed to suggest some kind of positive economic agenda but, in truth, a thin replacement that will do little to slow down most Asian nations' ever deeper economic integration with China," said the report.

"IPEF omens are not promising," said Crabtree, also the executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia. The framework focuses on areas varying from supply chain resilience and clean energy to taxation and corruption as well as new rules for "fair and resilient" trade, such as asking partners to sign up to high labor standards.

Because the administration has promised to protect domestic workers and producers, which requires shielding them from foreign competition, the IPEF offers no U.S. market access. For Southeast Asian nations, "it's an all-pain, no-gain economic deal," added the columnist in his article. 

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Liang Jun)


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