Fiji has become the first Pacific nation to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), a means to counter China’s growing presence in the region.
In a statement issued by the White House, President Joe Biden welcomed Fiji’s decision to join the IPEF as a founding member, the 14th nation and first in the Pacific Islands to do so.
The timing of the announcement seems impeccable, done on the eve of the visit by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Fiji. It seems that China’s unprecedented Pacific tour where economic and international agreements are being signed is a counter to the IPEF.
The statement said IPEF now reflects the full regional diversity of the Indo-Pacific, with members from Northeast and Southeast Asia, South Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific Islands.
“Across geography, we are united in our commitment to a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” said US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in the statement.
“A close partner to the United States and a leader in the region, Fiji will add vital value and perspective to IPEF, including on our efforts to tackle the climate crisis and build a clean economy that creates good paying jobs.
“The future of the 21st century economy is going to be largely written in the Indo-Pacific, and IPEF will help to drive sustainable growth for all our economies.
“The United States thanks Prime Minister Bainimarama, and we look forward to deepening our partnership for the benefit of our countries, the Pacific Islands, and the Indo-Pacific.”
IPEF seeks an open, inclusive, interconnected, and secure Indo-Pacific for sustainable growth of the region, according to the US.
The new framework, which is perceived as an economic correlative of the US Indo-Pacific strategy, is not a Free Trade Agreement, as clarified by the US.
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It looks more like a loose framework that brings together 14 countries to shape rules on key focus areas like the digital economy, trusted supply chains, clean economic growth, corporate accountability, and anti-corruption.
The IPEF’s framework can therefore be objectively seen as a move by the US to strengthen its foothold in the region and to check China’s vast influence.
As the US said IPEF seeks to strengthen economic partnership among participating countries in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness. The member countries will now discuss how to actually achieve these goals and strengthen economic cooperation.
China has already responded to IPEF. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi while addressing the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific on May 23, 2022 said the Asia-Pacific region is where China lives and thrives.
The right move for a free indo Pacific for generations to come , thank you United States in lending out the influence from this Chinese counterpart. And also the government of Fiji for the right move .
Thank you USA.
We need more USA to be active around Fiji and other Pacific island countries , including infrastructure like Chinese. Fiji is very small they’re creating unemployment very soon it can be same as France.