In recent years, various mega FTAs have been envisioned in emerging Asian countries, which are expected to be the growth centers of the world. However, in the United States, the former Trump administration has decided to withdraw from the TPP, and the current Biden administration will continue to be reluctant to return to the TPP. On the other hand, China has shown a move to increase its influence on the digital economy in addition to officially joining the CPTPP, and the US Biden administration has proposed IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework) as an alternative framework to the TPP. IPEF focuses on trade, supply chain, infrastructure / decarbonization, and tax / corruption prevention, while excluding tariff cuts to avoid parliament over talks. The Biden administration has officially announced its inauguration when the president visits Japan, and the Japanese government is willing to welcome it, but the fact is that the hurdles for its success are extremely high, as it is judged to be unattractive to emerging Asian countries.

 

     With regard to emerging Asian countries such as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), various mega FTA (free trade agreement) frameworks have been conceived in recent years as the world economy is expected to grow as a growth center. The movement to capture growth has become active through the strengthening of ties.

 

     In addition to the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Advanced Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership) issued with the withdrawal of the United States, which led to the final agreement led by Japan, the final agreement was reached with the withdrawal of India at the end of last year. The RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement for East Asia) that came into effect is a sign of such a move. Although the United States has decided to withdraw from the TPP under the former Trump administration, the hurdles for returning to the TPP remain extremely high for the current Biden administration even after the change of government.

 

     Furthermore, under the former Trump administration, the US-China conflict has intensified, and while the scope of the US-China conflict has expanded under the current Biden administration, China is strengthening its involvement through RCEP negotiations in emerging Asian countries. It is becoming more active. Therefore, it is considered that the Biden administration has become more aware that it is necessary to take measures to expand its involvement in emerging Asian countries.

 

     Against this backdrop, the Biden administration announced at the East Asia Summit held at the end of October last year a new US-led initiative, IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework), as an alternative framework to the return to the TPP. Behind the launch of the IPEF by the Biden administration is that China has officially announced its application for membership in the CPTPP in September last year, showing a positive move toward involvement in mega FTAs in the Asia-Pacific region. be. In addition, China has officially applied for membership in the DEPA (Digital Economy Partnership Agreement) led by Singapore and others in November last year, showing a move to take the initiative in the digital economy field in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

    Given these factors, it is believed that the Biden administration had no choice but to accelerate its efforts to maintain its influence in the Asia-Pacific region as China strengthened its involvement at an unexpected speed. On the other hand, in the United States, the TPA (Presidential Trade Promotion Authority) expired in July last year, and a parliamentary approval process is required to conclude a new trade agreement with other countries. Because of the headwinds for the Biden administration and the ruling party (Democratic Party), IPEF has no choice but to be at the framework level rather than a trade agreement in order to bypass the federal parliament.

 

In IPEF,

Fair and strong trade

Supply chain resilience

Infrastructure, decarbonization, clean energy

Tax and anti-corruption

It seems that it is envisioning a “modular” framework that seeks consensus building in each of the four fields, and the aim is to avoid the involvement of the federal parliament. However, as a result, IPEF does not include the contents of conventional economic partnership agreements such as tariff reductions, and even if it joins IPEF, access to the US market will not necessarily improve. It is a situation.

 

     For this reason, President Biden seems to have introduced IPEF at the special summit meeting between the United States and ASEAN held on the 13th of this month, but only Singapore and the Philippines have clearly shown interest. IPEF is not mentioned in the joint statement of the conference. The Biden administration has officially announced the inauguration of IPEF in conjunction with President Biden’s visit to Japan from the 22nd to the 24th of this month, and the Japanese government has expressed a stance of welcoming this, but mentioned above. Considering the situation, IPEF is not considered to be attractive to emerging Asian countries. On the other hand, while the severe situation in the midterm elections is expected for the Biden administration and the Democratic Party, it is possible that the concept itself will be in a dangling state depending on the whereabouts of the next administration, and its success is extremely difficult. It can be judged that there is.