Vietnam has told the US it is interested in pursuing a joint economic development plan but needs time to study the details.
The US’ economic development plan has four pillars: supply-chain stability, the digital economy, the fight against climate change and one related to labour, tax and anti-corruption measures.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, in Washington for a two-day summit between President Joe Biden and Southeast Asian leaders starting on Thursday, said he had held discussions on the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
“We would like to work with the US to realise the four pillars of that initiative,” he told a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“These are very important to the US, to Vietnam and other countries alike,” he said, speaking through a translator. However, Chinh said the “concrete elements” of the initiative had yet to be clarified.
‘More Time to Study This Initiative’
“We are ready to engage in discussion with the US to clarify what these four pillars will entail and when that is clarified, we would have something to discuss,” he added. “We need more time to study this initiative and see what it entails.”
Asian countries have been frustrated by a US delay in detailing joint economic development plans with the region since former president Donald Trump quit a regional trade pact in 2017, leaving the field open to China.
At a virtual summit with ASEAN last October, Biden said Washington would start talks about developing what has become known as the IPEF, which aims to set regional standards for cooperation.
Japan’s ambassador in Washington said this week the IPEF is likely to be formally launched when Biden visits Tokyo later this month, but its details were still under discussion.
Analysts and diplomats say only two of the 10 ASEAN countries – Singapore and the Philippines – were expected to be among the initial group of states to sign up for negotiations under the IPEF.
One handicap is the lack of US market access that the IPEF offers Asian countries.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell