The U.S. Department of Commerce last week issued a Federal Register notice requesting public input regarding certain negotiating objectives for several key pillars of the Biden administration’s developing Indo-Pacific Economic Framework including: 1) supply chain resilience; 2) infrastructure, clean energy, and decarbonization; and (3) tax and anti-corruption.
At the same time, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that it is also seeking comments on the IPEF’s wide-ranging “fair and resilient trade” pillar dealing with issues such as: labor; environment and climate; digital economy; agriculture; transparency and good regulatory practices; competition policy; and trade facilitation.
Commerce and USTR will co-chair the U.S. team leading the IPEF negotiations going once substantive talks on the IPEF are eventually launched. Currently, however, the White House has yet to announce how the negotiations will be conducted or, indeed, even which nations in the region will be involved.
Nevertheless, enough information about the proposed framework has been recently published (here and here, for example) for companies involved with trade with the Indo-Pacific region to engage with the relevant agencies and make their concerns known as further details emerge.
Last October, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would explore the development of an economic framework with potential partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
In February, the administration released a more detailed strategy for the region, which identified several areas of focus for the planned IPEF, including promoting and facilitating trade, developing rules to govern the digital economy, improving supply-chain resilience and security, spurring investment in infrastructure, and expanding digital connectivity.
The White House says its efforts in this regard “will build upon high-standard trade commitments and develop new approaches in trade policy to advance a broad set of worker-centered priorities, and promote durable, broad-based economic growth.”
Commerce is seeking broad input from all interested stakeholders—including industry, researchers, academia, labor, and civil society—regarding any of the following topics:
- General negotiating objectives for the IPEF.
- Digital and emerging technologies-related issues.
- Supply chain resilience-related issues.
- Infrastructure-related issues.
- Clean energy-related issues.
- Decarbonization-related issues.
- Tax-related issues.
- Anti-corruption-related issues.
- Issues particularly relevant to small and medium-sized businesses that should be addressed in the negotiations.
- Other issues for consideration.
With regards to negotiating objectives related to “fair and resilient trade” aspects of the proposed framework, the USTR is specifically seeking comments on:
- General negotiating objectives for the IPEF;
- Labor-related matters;
- Environment and climate-related matters;
- Digital economy-related matters;
- Agriculture-related matters;
- Transparency and good regulatory practice issues;
- Competition-related matters;
- Customs and trade facilitation issues; and
- Other measures or practices, including those of third-country entities, which undermine fair market opportunities for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.
Comments should be made through the https://www.regulations.gov website, referencing docket number ITA-2022-0001 and/or USTR-2022-0002 prior to April 11, 2022.
Commerce indicates that it prefers written comments to be provided in an attached document, using either the Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat file formats. Additional details about submitting comments can be found here and here.
Both Commerce and USTR ask that small businesses (generally defined by the Small Business Administration as firms with fewer than 500 employees) or organizations representing small business members that submit comments to self-identify as such, so the agencies are aware of issues of particular interest to small and medium-sized enterprises.