Source Global Times
BEIJING, China--The US will host a ministerial meeting on Tuesday, bringing together officials representing the 14 member countries that have joined the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), as Washington seeks to expand its engagement with Asia, Reuters reported. The meeting will be hosted by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Since its launch on May 23, observers have begun to criticize the IPEF for lacking specific content and being more symbolic than substantive. On the surface, the IPEF appears to be an economic initiative, yet it is actually driven more by geopolitical consideration rather than economic factors.
Faced with growing doubts, the US urgently needs to prove to the world that the US-led economic framework can offer tangible benefits to participating countries and allow them to benefit from the US market.
Topics for discussion at Tuesday's meeting include trade, supply chains, clean energy, infrastructure, taxes and combating corruption, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and US Department of Commerce.
With a schedule that is too ambitious to include too many topics ranging from trade to infrastructure, the US may find it unrealistic to reach a consensus among the 14 IPEF member countries, because time will be very limited for each member to speak on a single topic.
The US is trying to show IPEF members a beautiful picture as the USTR repeatedly stresses that "we share a commitment to a free, open, fair, inclusive, interconnected, resilient, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region that has the potential to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth."
The concept of a "free and open Indo-Pacific" has been appearing more often in US diplomatic rhetoric, but many find it sarcastic that there are no market access or tariff reduction provisions in the framework.
Battling an economic predicament at home, it is very difficult for the US to further open its market to Asia-Pacific economies. The US economy faces risks of falling into a mild recession by the end of 2022 or next year as the Federal Reserve raises rates to tame prices.
On the other hand, from the perspective of some economies in the Asia-Pacific region, it is impossible for them to promote economic and trade cooperation in accordance with the so-called high standards proposed by the US in some areas.
Yet, if these contradictions are not resolved, it is impossible for the US to push IPEF to move forward. This geopolitical tool designed by the US to divide economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region will end up being nothing but an empty plan.
Another fundamental problem of the IPEF hastily flung together by the US is that it violates the laws and trends of economic development. It is impossible for the US to artificially divide economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region for political reasons.
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