US and 12 countries join new Indo-Pacific trade pact

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US and 12 countries join new Indo-Pacific trade pact

TOKYO — President Joe Biden announced 12 countries have joined a new trade pact that the White House says will help the United States work more closely with Asian economies on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy and anticorruption efforts.

The signatories joining the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Along with the United States, they represent 40% of world GDP.

The countries said in a joint statement that the pact will help them collectively “prepare our economies for the future” following disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Critics say the framework has gaping shortcomings. It doesn’t offer incentives to prospective partners by lowering tariffs or provide signatories with greater access to U.S. markets. Those limitations may not make the U.S. framework an attractive alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which still moved forward after the U.S. bailed out.

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