Orient Magazine Issue 87 - June 2022 - Page 17

PM Lee : New Asia-Pacific Trade Framework has Strategic and Economic Significance
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework ( IPEF ), which was launched on Monday ( May 23 ) by US President Joe Biden , is " of both strategic and economic significance ", said Singapore ' s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong .
The US-led pact is an opportunity for the United States " to exercise economic diplomacy in the region ", said Mr Lee in his intervention at the virtual launch of the IPEF . membership open to others to join when they are ready to do so .
In closing , Mr Lee said Singapore looks forward to working closely with the US and other partners to " flesh out " the IPEF .
" We hope that in due course , it will lead on to even greater and more ambitious economic engagement between the United States and the region ."
It also shows the US ' continued commitment to engage with its Asian partners and deepen ties across the Pacific , Mr Lee added .
Thirteen countries , including Singapore and the US , have signed up to the IPEF . Together , they represent 40 per cent of the world GDP , said the White House in a press release .
At a press conference on Monday alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida , Mr Biden said the framework was " a commitment to working with our close friends and partners in the region on challenges that matter most to ensuring economic competitiveness in the 21st century ".
Unlike traditional trade blocs , there is no plan for IPEF members to negotiate tariffs and ease market access .
Instead , the programme will integrate partners though agreed standards in four main areas , including the digital economy , supply chains , clean energy infrastructure and anti-corruption measuresMr Lee said he is " happy that IPEF contains a forward-looking and positive agenda on economic cooperation ".
The four pillars would also " resonate strongly in the region ", said the prime minister .
" In particular , they will also cover cooperation in the digital economy and the green economy , which show promise of growth ," he added .
Mr Lee also said it is important that the IPEF " remains open , inclusive and flexible ", to allow members to continue working with other partners and leaving