US calls Indo-Pacific negotiating round just ahead of APEC summit

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration has called a seventh negotiating round for its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework arrangements in San Francisco next week, just ahead of a major summit of Pacific Rim leaders, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Wednesday.

The Nov. 5-12 talks are aimed at landing some agreements to announce at the APEC summit on joint efforts to fight climate change, anti-corruption and trade facilitation issues.

Many of the APEC member countries are also members of IPEF, the Biden administration’s signature effort to engage economically with the Indo-Pacific region and provide an alternative to China’s trade dominance in Asia.

The talks will be hosted by USTR and the Commerce Department and come shortly after a sixth negotiating round wrapped up in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 24.

At those talks, the U.S. cited progress on trade, clean energy. and anti-corrputon chapters, but no specific agreement.

Negotiators reached a deal in late May on strengthening supply chains, with member countries agreeing to create an early warning system for disruptions, such as those that occurred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries participating in IPEF are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States. India and Fiji are not members of APEC and India is not participating in the IPEF trade-related negotiations.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)