Fiji Joins IPEF, Hinders China’s Pacific Islands Cooperation Scheme

The White House announced on Tuesday that Fiji was joining the U.S. led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) amid China’s e-growing influence in the region. Fiji becomes the first Pacific island nation in the framework.

The White House announcement came just as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang starts his tour of Pacific island nations, including Fiji, to discuss a security pact within the region. Southern Pacific has become an increasingly tense front between Beijing and Washington to assert influence.

The U.S. and its Pacific allies, including Australia, Japan and New Zealand, have been concerned ahead of Wang’s tour of the region, seeking a 10 country deal on security and trade.

The White House said it welcomed Fiji as a founding partner of IPEF, which includes countries from Northeast and Southeast Asia, South Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific Islands.

U.S. National Security Advisor Sullivan said their aim was to unite in commitment to a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. Sullivan underlined Fiji’s valuable perspective in the fight against climate change.

Biden officially launched IPEF earlier this week during his trip to Asia, which has craved further U.S. economic engagement.

Fiji is the 14th country to join IPEF talks, which exclude China.

Since Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the U.S. has been struggling to find a pillar to its Indo-Pacific economic engagement.

IPEF is unlikely to include binding commitments, and some Asian countries and trade experts have expressed skepticism of the plan.

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