On May 23, 2022, President Biden announced the launch of negotiations for the long-awaited Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (“IPEF”). The IPEF had been under consideration for some time, but was finally announced during the President’s first trip to Asia.
These negotiations are beginning with a total of 12 countries in addition to the United States: Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Many of the countries on the list had been predicted (e.g., Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Singapore), but some were unexpected (e.g., Brunei and the Philippines). While Taiwan had indicated interest in joining, it was excluded from this launch largely because of concerns that its inclusion would prove an irritant to China, which might in turn dissuade other countries from joining. Nevertheless, there appears to be support in the Administration and elsewhere for continued bilateral engagement on trade and investment issues. On May 27, 2022, Fiji also joined the IPEF, the first Pacific Island nation to join the framework.