During his first trip to Asia, President Biden has launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) in Tokyo on Monday with a dozen founding partners including Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. According to President Biden, the IPEF will enable the United States and allies to decide on rules of the road that ensure American workers, small businesses, and ranchers can compete in the Indo-Pacific. According to him, tackling inflation is a top economic priority, and this framework will help lower costs by making supply chains more resilient in the long term, and will protect the communities against disruptions that lead to inflation. President Biden was of the view that the Indo-Pacific covers half the population of the world and more than 60 percent of the global GDP. According to him, the framework will focus on four key pillars i.e., connected, resilient, clean and fair economy to establish high-standard commitments that will deepen economic engagement in the region.
President Biden has concluded his first special tour of Asia to re energize the United States’ commitment with its most important Asian allies i.e., South Korea and Japan. The tour has great importance for the regional partners as well as the United States in the backdrop of the US Indo-Pacific strategy and intensifying US’s rivalry with China. The foremost purpose of Biden’s visit to Asia was to strengthen US economic and military cooperation with regional states through the introduction of the US-invented Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) to neutralize China’s aggressive outreach under Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). According to experts, Biden’s IPEF is an alternative to Xi’s BRI focused on trade cooperation and economic investment among the member nations, aimed at securing regional nations from growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. Apparently, the IPEF is a strategy highlighting prospects for the promotion of bilateral trade and economic relations among the member nations which needs further deliberation by the member states and certainly greater economies would grasp more benefits as mentioned by the President Biden it would open up opportunities for American businesses, workers as well as industry while the regional nations will get relatively less share out of this plan.
Apparently, the proposed IPEF is a replica of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Tran-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) with American participation, which was left by the former US President Donald Trump in the past. Interestingly, the IPEF provides equal opportunity to China to join the club, but the Chinese government was of the view that the regional nations should work to make Asia-Pacific a high ground for peaceful development instead of the creation of a geopolitical gladiatorial arena.
In fact, a new great game is continuing between the competitors while both great powers have launched different initiatives to increase their influence through the introduction of incentives strategies with fascinating names to attract regional countries. Xi had invested lavishly across the world from East Asia to Africa and Eurasia to Latin America to consolidate its power, while Biden suggested a plan for the distribution of friends’ prosperity among themselves. Hence, the Pacific nations have the tremendous opportunities to enjoy full benefits of these strategies without falling into the trap of any power grabber.