Fri, 22 Sep 2023

WASHINGTON D.C.: The U.S. Commerce Department has said that trade ministers from 14 countries have taken part in the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) talks, and "substantially completed" an agreement to make supply chains more resilient and secure.

The agreement is the first tangible result of the year-long negotiations, a statement following the talks said.

The fourteen nations that agreed to establish a Labour Rights Advisory Board comprised Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the U.S., and Vietnam.

The proposed agreement would establish a new advisory board, consisting of government, worker, and employer representatives, as well as a subcommittee composed of government representatives, to support the IPEF partners promotion of labour rights, the statement added.

During a press conference in Detroit, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that the "first of its kind" agreement calls for countries to form a council to coordinate supply chain activities, as well as a "Crisis Response Network" to give early warnings to IPEF countries of potential supply disruptions.

She also noted the semiconductor shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down American auto production, leaving thousands of workers without paychecks.

"I can tell you, I would have loved to have had that Crisis Response Network during COVID. It absolutely would have helped us secure American jobs and keep supply chains moving," she said, as quoted by The Associated Press.

One of four "pillars" in the IPEF talks, the Commerce Department led the supply chains negotiations, representing the Biden administration's main economic initiative in Asia to provide countries in the region with an alternative to closer ties with China.

China did not take part in the IPEF talks but participated in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade talks in Detroit that ended last week, which pledged to develop more inclusive trade.

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