Japan eyes debut of US Indo-Pacific economic plan during Biden visit

WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Japan later this month is expected to coincide with the official launch of a new U.S. economic strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, the Japanese ambassador said on Monday. in Washington.

Koji Tomita said at a virtual event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington that Japan and the United States have been working on the details of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which, he said, had to strike a balance between inclusion and high standards.

Asian countries want to strengthen ties with the United States, but have been frustrated by its delay in detailing plans for economic engagement with the region since former President Donald Trump quit a regional trade pact in 2017.

Biden, who is due to visit South Korea and Japan May 20-24, announced the IPEF plan last year, and his administration’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific region announced in February said the plan was to launch it in early 2022.

Tomita said Biden’s visit would send a strong signal that the United States remains focused on the Indo-Pacific despite the war in Ukraine.

“But this is not just a message. I believe the visit will establish in very strong terms that Japan and the United States are prepared to jointly play a leading role in the economic and social development of the Indo region. -wider Pacific,” he said. .

Tomita noted that Biden’s visit would include a summit meeting of the Quad grouping of the United States, Japan, Australia and India, an important vehicle for that purpose.

“I expect the visit to also coincide with the official launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework initiative by the United States. And we are now trying to flesh out the ideas that will be contained in this initiative,” he said. he added.

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said at the same event that Asian countries’ reaction to the Ukraine crisis had helped show Russia and China that they could not act with impunity. when a war breaks out. He said Ukraine did not mean Washington could not maintain its focus on Asia.

“In fact, there are lessons being learned from that that are being applied in real time here in the Indo-Pacific as a deterrent,” he said, without elaborating.

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