Thailand eyes U.S. Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

Thailand is ready to engage with the U.S. about possibly joining the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a U.S.-proposed multilateral trade agreement, the Kingdom’s Minister of Commerce said on the sidelines of the APEC Trade Ministers meeting earlier in Bangkok.

Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit made the comments after meeting with Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) at the APEC gathering. He told Tai that the cabinet agreed for Thailand to publicly express its desire to take part in talks on joining the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). The IPEF will be formally announced next month in France.

The goals of the IPEF are to promote economic security and sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific region, with an emphasis on trade, supply chain, clean energy, carbon dioxide reduction, infrastructure, taxation and combating corruption.

The U.S. has stressed that the grouping is not a free trade area or security alliance. American officials have said that their intentions are focused on increasing U.S. economic competitiveness in Asia.

Tai told reporters that the IPEF will create a fairer, more resilient economy for families, workers, and businesses in the U.S. and in the Indo-Pacific region. She emphasized how important Thailand is as a trading partner and friend of the U.S. Also, Tai added that Jurin had presented to her with information about Thailand’s labor reforms.

Other nations participating in the IPEF are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

The Trade Representative complemented Thailand on its hosting of a multitude of APEC events this year and that the U.S. looks forward to the handoff at the end of the year, as the U.S. will be the APEC host in 2023.

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