Singapore, Apr 6 (EFE).- United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said during a visit to Singapore Washington would like to promote an economic cooperation initiative with the Indo-Pacific, while China is ahead in trade agreements with the region.
Tai spoke to Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, visiting Washington last week, about “ambitious” initiatives to improve the “inclusion, sustainability and interests of our workers and the middle class,” according to a Wednesday statement from the US embassy in the city-state.
Tai’s visit, which took place between Monday and Tuesday, comes as Washington’s partners in the region, such as Singapore, have spoken about their fear the war in Ukraine will reduce US support for the area and give a clear path to further expansion of its rival, China.
The economic initiative for the Indo-Pacific, vaguely described at the moment, was mentioned by United States President Joe Biden in October and proposed as a framework from which to promote trade, digital economy and clean energy among others.
It is unknown who would be the potential participants in the initiative, which according to Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times could include Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Australia, before being extended to Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam among others.
The United States is seeking ways to strengthen economic ties with the region, after several setbacks that have strengthened China’s trade leadership, including former President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017.
Renamed after the departure of the US as CPTPP or TPP-11, it is one of the largest free trade agreements in the world (made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam), which China is also trying to join.
Beijing is also the promoter of what has become the largest free trade agreement in the world, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Association, in force since January and comprising Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam, South Korea, Burma (Myanmar), the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. EFE