By Joyeeta Dey
Los Angeles, Sep 10 (PTI) India has not yet agreed to the commitments of the trade pillar of the 14-member Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and will wait for further clarity on the issue and take decision based on its national interest.
All the other 13 Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for prosperity countries have joined the four pillars -- trade, supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy.
Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal attended the first in-person ministerial meeting of the two-day IPEF, which concluded here.
A ministerial statement on three subjects -- supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy -- and a ministerial text on trade pillar was issued after the conclusion of the meeting.
While India was mentioned in three statements about supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy, there was no mention of India in the ministerial text about the trade pillar.
"We, the ministers of the US, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, seek to craft high-standard, inclusive, free, fair and open trade commitments that build upon the rules-based multilateral trading system," according to the ministerial text on trade pillar.
It said that to deliver tangible benefits to peoples and advancing resilient, broad-based economic connectivity and integration in the Indo-Pacific region, the 13-countries (barring India) intend to pursue provisions and initiatives related to labour, environment, digital economy, agriculture, competition policy, transparency and good regulatory practices, trade facilitation, inclusivity, and technical assistance and economic cooperation.
The IPEF was launched jointly by the US and other partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region on May 23 in Tokyo. The 14 IPEF partners represent 40 per cent of global GDP and 28 per cent of global goods and services trade.
The framework is structured around four pillars relating to trade, supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy.
"India has agreed to the remaining three pillars (supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy). We are not yet clear on the binding commitments of the trade pillar. So we will wait and see what are the commitments set out in further deliberations and we will act accordingly," an official said.
India cannot agree on free agriculture trade, but if it is about high standards of export, "we are agreeable. India has stood up to its own interest and we can't be arm-twisted like other smaller countries," the official added.
Goyal has earlier stated that India will take decisions on different aspects of IPEF based on its national interest.
The ministerial text on trade has also stated that "...we will seek to: enhance food and agricultural supply chain resilience and connectivity; avoid unjustified measures that restrict food and agricultural imports; improve transparency of regulatory processes and procedures;...avoid unjustified prohibitions or restrictions on food and agricultural exports...".
The text has talked about promoting and supporting secure cross-border data flows; and inclusive, sustainable growth of the digital economy.
According to the ministerial statement on pillar 4 -- fair economy, "we, the ministers of US, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, recognise that fairness, inclusiveness, transparency, the rule of law and accountability are essential to improving the investment climate...and promoting labour rights...".
In this pillar, the 14 countries have intended to focus on anti-corruption, tax, capacity building and innovation, cooperation and transparency.
On pillar - 3, clean economy, the statement said that all the 14 member nations have intended to increase efforts in pursuit of greenhouse gas emissions mitigation and elimination, sustainable livelihoods for their population.
On the supply chain pillar, all the nations have expressed commitment to improve transparency, diversity, security and sustainability in their supply chains to make them more resilient , robust and well integrated. PTI JD HVA