No decision yet on India joining trade pillar of IPEF: Official

New Delhi: The government has not yet taken any decision on the issue of India joining the trade pillar of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a 14-member grouping, a senior official said.

The IPEF was launched jointly by the US and other partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region on May 23 in Tokyo. The 14 IPEF partners represent 40 per cent of global GDP and 28 per cent of global goods and services trade.

The framework is structured around four pillars relating to trade, supply chains, clean economy, and fair economy (issues like tax and anti-corruption).
India has joined the three pillars except the trade part. The member countries are holding negotiations to sign separate agreements on these subjects.
Talks are already concluded on the supply chain resilience and the process for domestic approval in India for this agreement is underway.
The member nations are holding talks on clean economy, and fair economy pillars under the sixth negotiating round, which is undergoing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from October 15 to 24.
The commerce ministry, which is leading the talks, is holding inter-ministerial discussions on the option to join the trade pillar.
“We are observing, taking feedback, and seeing convergences on the issue. We have not yet taken decision on joining the trade pillar. After the conclusion of an IPEF round, we share all the developments with different ministries,” the official said.
The objective of the IPEF is creation of a more conducive environment for enhancing trade and investment linkages, development of resilient supply chains and acceleration of sustainable development.
“In the sixth round, text-based negotiations are happening on Pillar-III (clean economy) and Pillar-IV (fair economy). Most probably, talks on these two pillars will also be closed by October 25 and we look forward to agreeing to a substantial closure in the ministerial meeting which is scheduled to be held on 13-14 November at San Francisco,” the official added.
Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam are members of the bloc.
The official said that India has the option to join the trade pillar at any point of time.
“We are keenly observing and weighing our options after the conclusion of every round. We see convergence on a lot of our issues, a lot of our concerns are addressed, but there are some concerns. So we are seeing how much of our concerns are addressed and how the final structure evolves, then we will decide,” the government official, who did not wish to be named, said.
Earlier trade experts have suggested that India should ensure that outcomes of the IPEF negotiations do not curtail its domestic policy options for promoting Atmanirbhar Bharat in sectors such as green products.
The framework is a US-led initiative with the objective of negotiating rules for tackling 21st century challenges and promoting fair and resilient trade.
The member countries have an option to decide the pillar in which they wish to participate. India has opted out from the trade pillar, while it has joined the remaining three.