India pulls out of trade talks with US-led Indo-Pacific group

The US attempt to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) may have been a blow when India pulled out of trade talks. Apparently, in a statement released after two days of negotiations in Los Angeles, the US side issued a statement explaining India’s position.

“India is not now in the ‘trade pillar’. However, Minister (Piyush) Goyal and I have spoken and we have our bilateral and trade policy forum. I should meet him by the end of the year. We would cover the same issues in this bilateral channel,” said US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

Stating that the doors remained open for New Delhi to join the economic side of the platform, Tai added, “That question you should ask Minister Goyal. I wouldn’t call this a non-participation, India is not in the trade pillar at the moment.

It is pertinent to note that Joe Biden launched the IPEF initiative in May earlier this year. The IPEF is an attempt by Washington to bring Asian countries together to counter China’s influence in the region.

India, Australia, Brunei, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States are the 14 members of the group.

Read more: PM Modi to attend President Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework launch

The IPEF comprises four main focus areas, viz. supply chain resilience, connected economy, clean energy transformation (clean energy, decarbonization and infrastructure) and fair economy (anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and taxation).

While India will be part of three of the four pillars namely supply chain, clean economy and fair economy, it has refrained from joining the connected economy.

And this is not the first time that New Delhi has given up joining an economic agreement in a new grouping. In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government took the rather bold approach of not joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

WATCH | India rejects calls to join Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

(With agency contributions)


Jennifer C. Burleigh