Much of Asia is preparing to usher in the year of the rabbit this coming weekend. Expect much movement on the trade agreement front as the region returns to a post-pandemic normality.
Asia Trade column
The fourteen members of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework meeting in Australia this weekend for its first full negotiating round will need to think very carefully about the critical red lines that are behind the positions of a United States acting without Trade Promotion Authority.
The end of the Asian ‘summit season’ brings a big sigh of relief to most participating members. The region appears to have gotten through November without any apparent disasters, leaders managed to agree on statements, and some new initiatives were announced for trade.
Expansion has been baked into the DNA of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. But the ongoing United Kingdom accession has revealed how challenging the process is in practice for the members as other countries have joined the queue.
Countries in the Asia-Pacific are trailblazing innovative and flexible digital trade rules at a time when negotiations in the World Trade Organization advance at snail’s pace – at the risk of creating a confusing new set of overlapping rules.
Perhaps in the triumph of hope over experience, the EU and Indonesia have recently announced their intention to accelerate progress on their stalled free trade agreement. But political factors and deep-rooted disagreements over the EU’s sustainability and deforestation policies mean that finalising a deal will remain a tall order.
Participants in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework are holding their first ministerial meeting this week in the United States. Deborah Elms explains what IPEF is all about – and what it isn’t.