Clean economy keeps India off Indo-Pacific trade deal


NEW DELHI: In the absence of broader consensus on trade-related issues, India on Thursday decided not to join the trade commitments during the inaugural Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) held in Los Angeles.

Highlighting that India had engaged very exhaustively in all the various streams of discussion, Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal, who attended the meeting, said that on three out of four pillars related to supply chains, tax and anti-corruption and clean energy, India was comfortable with the outcome and had joined the declaration. But, on one pillar, which dealt primarily with trade, the minister said, the contours of the framework — particularly on commitments required on environment, labour, digital trade and public procurement  — were still emerging and India would wait for them to be finalised before formally associating with that track. Accordingly, while India was mentioned in three statements about supply chains, clean economy and fair economy, there was no mention of India  about the trade pillar.

The IPEF was launched jointly by the US and partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region on May 23 in Tokyo. It represents 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.

“We have to see what benefits member countries will derive and whether any conditionalities on aspects like environment may discriminate against developing countries who have the imperative to provide low-cost and affordable energy to meet the needs of our growing economy…Together this group of 14 countries of the IPEF will define the rules of trade among countries which believe in fair play, transparency, and rules-based trading in the future,” Goyal said.

He underscored that India was in the process of firming up its own digital framework and laws, particularly regarding privacy and data. Therefore India, while continuing to engage with the trade track in the IPEF, would wait for the final contours to emerge.

In the meantime, officials would be participating in the discussions “with an open mind and in the best interest of the people and businesses in India,” the minister added. Responding to a query, the minister said that certain responsibilities of the developed world should be an integral part of any such agreement and that is a matter that will require deeper engagement.

All the other 13 Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for prosperity countries have joined the four pillars —trade, supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy. 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.

Goyal said fruitful discussions had been held over the course of the IPEF Ministerial meeting to bring together a group of likeminded, rules-based, transparent countries with a shared interest in an open Indo-Pacific region.

Apart from holding meetings with his counterparts of other countries during which he discussed ways to boost bilateral trade and investment, Goyal visited the Los Angeles Port, one of the busiest in the world. “It is the right time to invest in India’s ports sector that is being expanded and upgraded to strengthen logistics. India and US look to deepen trade and investment ties and build resilient global supply chains”, he tweeted.

Later during an interaction with the Indian diaspora in the city, Goyal urged them to grab the  opportunity that the growth story of India offers.



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