SEOUL, May 23 (UPI) — U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework on Monday, with 12 nations joining the United States in a trade initiative meant to respond to China’s growing regional influence.
Joining the United States in the deal are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The members of the pact are “signing up to work toward an economic vision that will deliver for all our peoples: the vision for an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, connected and prosperous and secure as well as resilient,” Biden said at a launch event in Tokyo.
“We’re here today for one simple purpose: The future of the 21st century economy is going to be largely written in the Indo-Pacific — in our region,” he added. “We’re writing the new rules for the 21st century economy that are going to help all of our countries’ economies grow faster and fairer.”
Earlier Monday, Biden addressed the challenges that the American economy faces and said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that inflation “is going to be a long haul.”
However, Biden added that he doesn’t believe a recession is inevitable and touted recent economic progress, such as robust job creation.
“We have problems that the rest of the world has, but less consequential than the world has because of our internal growth and strength,” Biden said.
While much of the focus on Biden’s first presidential trip to Asia has been on security issues — such as nuclear and missile threats from North Korea and China’s aggressive stance toward Taiwan — the White House is also looking to highlight its domestic economic agenda.
In a visit in South Korea on Friday, Biden touted investments, which plans to open a $17 billion chip factory in Texas, and Hyundai, which has pledged to invest at least $10 billion in electric vehicles and related technologies in the United States.
Hyundai’s investment will include a $5.5 billion EV and battery plant in Georgia, which is expected to create 8,000 jobs.