India has decided to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum today, in the first-ever in-person ministerial meet held in Tokyo. India along with 13 other members of the forum will be sharing their concerns at the various ‘pillars’ of the same.
India has opted to join the supply chain, decarbonization & Infrastructure, anti-tax & corruption pillars of the multilateral forum. Most importantly, India chose not to be a part of the first pillar of the forum, which is trade.
Piyush Goyal, the commerce minister of India who led the delegation has remarked on the need for more deliberations for a ‘broad consensus’ to emerge in, order for India to reconsider the decision.
Free trade is one of the prime concerns of India as a matter of foreign policy priority in recent times. However, India on a number of occasions has reiterated that it should come only under the conditions where the economic sovereignty of the nation is uncompromised.
Indo-Pacific Economic Framework or IPEF is one of the latest multilateral summit-level dialogues where newer security & regional challenges are being tackled. It is part of the larger push by the US and like-minded partners to make sure the ‘rules-based’ international world order stays in place.
Various smaller nations have decided to join the forum as part of their concerns towards collective problems such as climate change, Freedom of Navigation(FoN) among other things. While not officially stated, the coming together of these nations is also seen in the backdrop of the rise of China as an aspiring hegemon, & its discontents.
The grouping of nations is deemed important from various perspectives. The nations of the Asia-pacific together account for 40% of the world’s GDP, & over 60% of the world’s population.
Nations that are part of IPEF include Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Fiji, Thailand, Philippines, India & the US.
All of these nations have earmarked various sectors to establish criteria for cooperation-including critical sectors & goods. This will mean the identification of several sectors whose role pervades from trade to national security, public health, climate change, sustainability & economic resilience of the nations involved.
It was evident from the global crisis of COVID- a pandemic that a nation cannot stand well against a crisis by remaining perenially dependent on critical supplies from another nation.
They have agreed to advance crisis response mechanisms via information sharing. This will include government-to-government coordination, identification of crisis mitigation practices, technology transfer & data exchanges as well.
Decarbonization is a crucial pillar of the framework, wherein the nations will work collectively to introduce renewable energy market cooperation, and sharing of the technology to decarbonize economies in line with the sustainable development goals.
This is a major framework for the largest possible geopolitical map possible. And new India under PM Modi should make sure to play the cards well.