Must move quickly to save small businesses and jobs, says US commerce secretary

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LOS ANGELES: What started as “China plus one” – referring to the dire and urgent need to have another source country/countries for supply chain following disruption of the same during Covid – could now emerge as China plus 14 nations of the Indo-Pacific region. The Economic Framework of 14 countries of the region (IPEF) kicked off in Los Angeles on Thursday with a ministerial meeting, with India being represented by a team led by Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal. The focus is on creating a resilient supply chain that can protect businesses – and jobs – in the future by avoiding over-reliance on one country (read China) through clean and green practices in the IPEF member countries.
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).
The commerce minister Piyush Goyal had said on Wednesday, “This is a collective grouping of like-minded countries where the rule of law prevails to tackle issues like ensuring there is no supply chain disruption in the future so that businesses and people don’t suffer. It will also discuss taxes and anti-corruption measures. The effort will be to bring people and countries together to ensure uninterrupted flow of goods and services. It will expand business ties between like-minded countries which do not indulge in opaque business practices. The idea is to remain secure and open for business at all times.”



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