The U.S. government has announced that its new economic grouping for the Indo-Pacific will begin with 13 inaugural members, accounting for about 40% of the world's gross domestic product.
US President Joe Biden on Monday announced the launch of a new Asia-Pacific trading network during a visit to Japan. The framework, which includes an initial 13 countries, including India and Japan, has been touted as a counterweight to China's aggressive expansion in the region.
"The United States and Japan, together with 11 other nations, will be launching" the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, or IPEF, Biden said at a press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
"This framework is a commitment to working with our close friends and partners in the region on challenges that matter most to ensuring economic competitiveness in the 21st century," he said.
Biden was due to make a formal rollout of the framework later Monday.
The US president did not reveal the countries which have already joined IPEF, which the White House is billing as a framework for what will ultimately become a tight-knit group of trading nations.
Unlike traditional trading blocs, there is no plan for IPEF members to negotiate tariffs and ease market access, which is increasingly unpalatable to US voters fearful of undermining homegrown manufacturing.
Instead, the programme foresees integrating partners through agreed standards in four main areas: the digital economy, supply chains, clean energy infrastructure and anti-corruption measures.
Biden has pushed to rapidly rebuild the strategic military and trade alliances weakened under his predecessor Donald Trump since taking office in 2021.
IPEF is intended to offer US allies an alternative to China's growing commercial presence across the Asia-Pacific region.