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Source: wechat official account: buyidao has been authorized to reprint

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The first offline long-term meeting of the “Indo Pacific economic framework” (IPEF), which was “lacking in detail”, began to be held in Los Angeles on the 8th local time.

Dai Qi, US trade representative, and Raymond ramondo, Secretary of Commerce, were present to preside over the meeting. Senior US officials also took the opportunity to boast about the “importance” of the meeting and the “innovation” of the framework, but they could not dilute the prominent impression of IPEF at the present stage: virtual.

It has been nearly four months since the launch was announced, and the 14 initial member states have not even reached an agreement on when to start formal negotiations. The United States has set out the so-called “four pillars” of trade and supply chain, but even some mainstream American media have said that the relevant negotiations are “not the most difficult but the more difficult”.

The exclusion of tariff reduction and expansion of market access provisions is even more regarded as a “congenital defect” that makes the framework lose its effectiveness.

Not only did Washington refuse to give up profits, but Washington also clearly regarded this framework as “the best way to confront China in the Indo Pacific region”. IPEF “is characterized by the absence of China”, which made Countries unwilling to be forced to choose sides wait and see and hesitate.

IPEF “may become a rootless duckweed”.

Coupled with the influence of other factors, this “expectation” of the Japanese media is not unreasonable.


This is the first time that the “Indo Pacific economic framework” (IPEF) faces a long-term meeting. The US government and some media have particularly highlighted this point.

However, this can not change the overall impression of the framework from the outside world. One word: virtual.

It has been nearly four months since the launch of IPEF was announced by Biden during his visit to Japan in May this year, during which many online ministerial meetings and working meetings have been held. However, judging from the results, it is still basically at the “air-to-air” stage, and the time to start formal negotiations has not been negotiated.

The main objective of this meeting in Los Angeles is also to seek “to start formal negotiations as soon as possible”.

US trade representative Dai Qi and Commerce Secretary Raymond co chaired the meeting.

It is quite pertinent for these two people to appear at the same time. According to the US assumption, IPEF will be composed of the so-called “four pillars”, namely 1) trade; 2) Supply chain; 3) Clean energy, decarbonization and infrastructure; 4) Taxation and anti-corruption. The US trade representative will be responsible for the first “pillar”, and the US Department of Commerce will supervise the other three aspects.

Before leaving for Los Angeles, Dai Qi had already targeted China.

On July 7, during a video conversation with a researcher of the Carnegie Endowment for international peace, a us think tank, she vilified China’s “unfair trade” and claimed that the United States needed to combine “attack” with “defense” to deal with the so-called “challenge” of China by imposing tariffs and investing in the United States.

Dai Qi also praised IPEF, saying that it was “an innovation beyond traditional trade agreements”, and that trade was “only one part of a big project”.

No one can see how “innovative” IPEF is, but it is quite true that the outside world looks down on the cooperation in the four fields it focuses on.

The trade “pillar” that Dai Qi is responsible for is particularly considered difficult to support.

In a report in the South China Morning Post on the 8th, elms, executive director of the Singapore think tank “Asia Trade Center”, bluntly said that the trade part of IPEF may be difficult to attract other countries to join because it “does not bring obvious benefits like traditional trade agreements”.

In elms’ view, a key sticking point is that its “priority areas are determined by American politics, not necessarily based on the careful consideration of the common interests of all participating countries”.

Emily Benson, a scholar at the center for strategic and international studies, an American think tank, is also pessimistic about the expectations of IPEF as the “pillar” of trade, saying that it is difficult to achieve “early harvest”.

The negotiations on the other three “pillars” are also considered to be very difficult. Among them, taxation and anti-corruption are considered even more difficult.

According to the current information, the “pillar” of the supply chain will become a focus of cooperation within the framework of IPEF.

The draft joint statement obtained by the Japanese media in advance shows that at the Los Angeles conference, all participants will agree to strengthen the sharing of supply chain information and establish a special response team to prevent the shortage and interruption of the supply of important raw materials such as semiconductors.

Even so, in the direction of “decoupling” and containment of the supply chain that Washington has been seeking to promote, this “pillar” is still considered difficult to reach agreement. For many participating countries of IPEF, it is possible to strengthen cooperation with the United States, but it is not possible to “either or” at the expense of cooperation with China.


The headline of a commentary article in the US Capitol Hill on the 7th reveals the geopolitical purpose of the “Indo Pacific economic framework”:

This is the best way for the United States to confront China in the Indo Pacific region.

At the beginning of the article, it was said that IPEF led people to think that it was an attempt by the US government to “guide decoupling from China in order to rebuild the leadership and relevance of the US economy”. As a “good wish” of Washington, the Capitol Hill newspaper described the offline long-term meeting as the representatives of other 13 countries running to Los Angeles to contribute to the Biden administration’s “Indo Pacific economic framework”.

Since withdrawing from the TPP negotiations in 2017, the United States has “the most important economic contact” in the Asia Pacific region, and is one of the plans to “write new rules for the 21st century economy” in the Asia Pacific… Senior US officials and public opinion have also boasted and praised IPEF.

However, some mainstream American media have to admit that IPEF is facing a bleak reality.

Bloomberg directly pointed out on the 8th that “the new efforts of the Biden administration lack details”.

Although the “four pillars” have been listed, and 13 other countries have become initial members, it is still unknown which country participates in which “pillar”, what the relevant standards are, what each participating country wants to do and what it can get.

Some experts even said that they hoped that the delegations of the initial members would “better understand what they are talking about here” in the past few days in Los Angeles. The implication is that four months after joining, these countries are still in a fog.

The details of how to implement it are unknown, but the United States has long stated that it will not reduce tariffs and expand market access.

This was repeatedly praised as “innovation” by Dai Qi and other senior US officials.

However, the doubts in the United States and the worries of other participating countries have long come to our face. One feeling that has been further solidified is that the Biden administration is trying to enrich the “Indo Pacific strategy” and win over Asia Pacific countries to confront China, but it is neither able nor willing to pay any cost.

Bloomberg recalled that since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the early 1990s, the United States has negotiated about 12 free trade agreements. “Improving market access through tariff reduction has always been the feature of these agreements.”

But now in the United States, the Republican Party and even the Democratic Party have criticized that this practice will lead to the loss of American jobs and so on. The Biden administration’s push to put such contents as tariff reduction into the “Indo Pacific economic framework” simply can not get enough support.

Without these, it is difficult for a framework that claims to “promote economic and trade cooperation” to have a substantial impact.

The US Foreign Policy magazine published an article in early July, saying that the US trade community almost unanimously condemned IPEF’s lack of market access and tariff reduction provisions, because without these, the framework is “unlikely to have an impact on the trade flow between the United States and the other 13 member states”.

IPEF “lacks guardrails to ensure its effectiveness”, which is considered by many observers as a fundamental defect.


In addition to the “congenital defects” in design, how much progress IPEF can make depends on whether the majority of member states that have joined can truly ensure that they can benefit from it and avoid being forced to become pawns of the United States against China within this framework.

Andegen, head of the Ministry of industry, trade and resources of the Republic of Korea, who led the delegation to Los Angeles, said that his trip to the United States was mixed. In addition to attending the IPEF offline ministerial meeting, he also has the responsibility to negotiate with the United States on the discrimination against electric vehicles made in South Korea.

It is reasonable to say that the New South Korean government has responded quite positively to the US “Indo Pacific economic framework” and is also the main target of the “chip Quad alliance” that Washington is trying to win over. When Biden visited Asia in May, he showed enough “closeness and importance” to Seoul.

But as soon as the Biden administration turned around, the newly passed “inflation Reduction Act” and the chip alliance it is promoting have sacrificed the interests of Korean automobile and semiconductor enterprises, either excluding them from subsidies or trying to restrict their investment in China.

The South Korean experience and resentment have become the latest proof of Washington’s hypocrisy.

Will countries within the IPEF framework be similarly treated by the United States in the future?

At least for now, the United States has once again shown its selfish side. The details of IPEF are still a question mark. The US Department of Commerce has already begun to seek political benefits at home, saying that it will bring tangible benefits to American workers and small and medium-sized enterprises through IPEF negotiations.

Draw a pie in advance to publicize what benefits IPEF can bring to the United States, so as to please voters in conjunction with the Congressional midterm elections. This routine is very obvious, and it also comes down in the same vein as the adoption of the “inflation reduction plan” and the “chip and Science Act”, that is, everything focuses on the self-interest of the United States, such as guiding the return of industries, and ignores the interests and demands of other countries and even so-called allies.

In addition to being believable in nature, the domestic political situation in the United States also makes other Member States feel uncertain.

A scholar on Asia Pacific issues pointed out that the US push for IPEF itself serves the “us first” and tries to seize the regional economic dominance. However, the framework is vulnerable to domestic political shocks in the United States and faces the possibility of “changing orders all the time”.

In the short term, in the mid-term elections in November, if the Democratic Party’s election situation is unfavorable and the bipartisan structure in Congress changes, IPEF may become a major topic of domestic political struggle in the United States. It can be expected that there will be a pull around this issue.

Think further. In the presidential election in two years’ time, if the Republican Party makes a comeback, even if it does not overthrow IPEF, it will adjust its focus according to its own ideas. At present, IPEF involves industries supported by the Democratic Party, such as new energy and Internet enterprises; If the Republican Party comes to power, it will focus on taking care of the interests of major vote holders such as oil companies and farmers.

In other words, even if the Republican Party does not overthrow IPEF, it may empty the existing content.

What about other participating countries?

The selfishness and political uncertainty of the United States, its single-minded intention to build IPEF into a geopolitical tool to suppress China, and the obvious differences in the national conditions, interest demands and international positions of the 14 countries have doomed the negotiation process of IPEF to be difficult and the prospect is like the “rootless duckweed” in the Japanese media.

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