National interest: India remains out of IPEF trade pillar for now

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LOS ANGELES: India has for now opted to remain out of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework’s (IPEF) trade pillar. Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal had on Thursday said all decisions will be taken keeping “national interest” in mind.
The IPEF has four pillars — trade, supply chains, clean energy-decarbonisation-infrastructure and tax and anti-corruption.
The forum gives flexibility to the 14 member countries to choose which pillar/s they want to be part of.
Asked the reason why India has chosen to remain out of the trade pillar for now, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said here on Friday after the conclusion of the two-day ministerial meet: “This can be answered by Minister Goyal. I won’t say India has opted out of the trade pillar. I will say they not in in right now.” She said the US will hold bilateral talks with India later this year which will cover the same issues.
Trade experts say India may have some genuine concerns regarding certain aspects of the trade pillar that perhaps go beyond the WTO obligations. Piyush Goyal had on Thursday said any decision will be based on India’s “national interest.”
US secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo said on Friday: “All 14 IPEF members have together on the issues. There were no sceptics in the room, we have a clear roadmap for the mutual benefit of all members. The timelines for implementation are aggressive as people depend on us to succeed.”
Ambassador Tai said: “IPEF is meant to be flexible. Member countries can choose which pillar they want to participate in. There has been great enthusiasm on ensuring a resilient supply chain between the member countries. IPEF will lead to more investments and create more jobs in all the 14 countries.”
Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal said at the end of a day one of deliberations Thursday 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 on Thursday held bilateral discussions with US with secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai, among other countries, on the sidelines of the 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 had 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.
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.

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