Regulatory intelligence for US exporters

Government Officials Tout Trade Facilitation in IPEF

Trade facilitation -- or how customs is administered -- and digital trade practices are non-tariff barriers that the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework can tackle, and therefore help U.S. exporters, particularly small businesses. That was the message from a senior official at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which is managing one of the four pillars of the IPEF.

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The 13 IPEF countries talking with the U.S. are Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Fiji and New Zealand. There has been no disclosure on which countries will choose to engage on trade, as countries can choose any of the pillars they wish to sign on to. The other pillars are supply chain resilience, decarbonization and tax/anti-corruption.

The senior government official did not answer a reporter's question Sept. 7 about whether there would be a joint statement at the end of the Los Angeles ministerial meeting later this week, or whether there would be an announcement about which countries are participating in which parts of IPEF.

The IPEF will not lower tariffs in the U.S. or the partner countries. When asked whether any of the countries want to talk about the expiration of the Generalized System of Preferences benefits program, or whether India might return to GSP, the senior government official replied, "Look, we have a lot of issues with different countries in IPEF, but I think what we’re really focused on in these conversations is just moving forward on this agreement."

The official said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai would have bilateral meetings on the edges of the conference while in Los Angeles.

She said the meetings will be a time to take stock of the progress made in discussions over the last few months and try to map out where there might be consensus as talks continue.

"Generating consensus among such a diverse group of countries is not always easy," she said.

"We’re laser focused on supply chain resilience," a senior Commerce Department official said, as well as on accelerating the deployment of clean energy.