Take Action on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

By Eileen Schuhmann | Presbyterian Hunger Program Staff

Moments after the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework by US President Biden at the Izumi Garden Gallery in Tokyo on his first visit to Japan as President. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Negotiations for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) are set to begin in early May. This is not a traditional trade agreement, it is an economic arrangement, rather than a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), meaning that it won’t increase market access or reduce tariffs, but it has the potential to increase and improve trade relations among member states. With this kind of executive agreement, the Biden Administration will be able to bypass congressional debate and approval.

Eric Gottwald with the AFL-CIO states, “Most of modern trade agreements aren’t about market access, they are about setting rules for the global economy, what can and cannot be done, what can be regulated and how.”[i]

And we should all be concerned about the rules! There continues to be concern that this agreement is lacking transparency and public participation like  other trade related agreements of the past.

Currently, there are 14 member states: Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam, representing 40% of global GDP and 60% of the world’s population. The impacts could therefore be huge, which is why people of faith should be paying careful attention to this.

The IPEF negotiations are organized into 4 policy pillars:

  1. Connected Economy – digital trade, labor, and the environment
  2. Resilient Economy – supply-chain issues
  3. Clean Economy – climate-related issues, such as renewable energy, decarbonization, energy efficiency standards, carbon removal, and methane emissions reduction
  4. Fair Economy – tax and anticorruption policies


Arthur Stamoulis with Citizens Trade Campaign states, “The first step in developing a new, ‘worker-centered’ trade model is partnering with nations committed to upholding core labor and human rights standards.  The ongoing rights abuses in the Philippines and some other IPEF members would undermine Biden administration’s goal of establishing a new model for international trade that prioritizes working people over corporate interests.”[ii]

Labor and civil society groups are demanding the following outcomes of IPEF negotiations:

  1. Include strong labor and climate standards backed by facility-specific, rapid-response enforcement penalties for violations;
  2. Excludes Big Tech-favored “digital trade” rules that undermine consumer privacy, data security, AI accountability, algorithmic transparency and anti-monopoly policies; and
  3. Utilizes a transparent and accountable negotiating process that includes the release of draft texts for public review.


Faith-based groups, including the Presbyterian Mission Agency, are demanding the following of IPEF:

  1. Promote the Dignity of Work and Put People Over Profit
  2. Uphold Environmental Protections as Faithful Stewards of the Earth
  3. Promote Policies to End Hunger
  4. Protect Human Rights in Digital Trade


Sign Petition to demand that IPEF prioritize working people and the planet!

Learn More:

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework @ Public Citizen

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework @ Trade Justice Education Fund

Watch Video Briefing on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework  @ Trade Justice Education Fund


[i] Briefing on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

[ii] https://www.citizen.org/news/statement-international-civil-society-reactions-to-announcement-of-ipef-member-countries/


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