AFTINET submission to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)

November 2, 2022: DFAT has called for submissions  on the negotiating objectives of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)

IPEF is the economic arm of the US economic and strategic rivalry with China in the region. The US is not part of the Regional Comprehensive economic Partnership (RCEP) of the ten ASEAN countries plus five other countries including China, nor the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership  (CPTPP) of 11 Pacific Rim countries. This is not a conventional trade agreement, as the US is not offering any market access to their domestic market. 

In theory IPEF is partly about lifting  labour rights and environmental standards in the region, developing alternative supply chains to those involving China and addressing corruption and tax issues, . However the agreements may not be legally enforceable.

The governments involved are the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. They hope to attract others, including more Pacific Island countries in addition to Fiji.

AFTINET's submission to  DFAT on the IPEF sets out our positive agenda for amore transparent process, including access to negotiating texts. It calls for  trade based on enforceable labour rights and environmental standards, and the inclusion of women, Indigenous Peoples and people with disabilities. The submission also argues for the exclusion of negative features of previous trade agreements, like longer medicine monopolies, deregulation of essential services and rights of corporations to sue governments (ISDS).