Singapore welcomes proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework with US: PM Lee

WASHINGTON: The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) proposed by the US needs to be "inclusive" and provide "tangible benefits" to encourage wider participation, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (May 12).

Singapore welcomes the proposed framework, said Mr Lee, speaking at an engagement with the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce.

The IPEF aims to set regional standards for cooperation, and includes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states. The new US economic strategy for the Indo-Pacific is expected to be formally launched when US President Joe Biden visits Japan later this month.

President Biden had previously announced at a virtual summit with ASEAN in October 2021 that Washington would start talks about developing the IPEF.

"It needs to be inclusive and provide tangible benefits to encourage wider participation and it should cover cooperation in areas like digital and green economies and infrastructure because these issues will resonate strongly in the region," said Mr Lee during the engagement on Thursday.

"We encourage greater ASEAN participation in the IPEF and we hope the US will directly invite and engage ASEAN member states in this endeavour."

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This engagement is part of the Mr Lee's five-day working visit to Washington DC from May 10 to May 14 to attend the ASEAN-US Special Summit hosted by President Biden.

The Summit was originally scheduled for March. This is the second Special Summit between the US president and ASEAN leaders since 2016.

Including Mr Lee, eight ASEAN leaders are expected to take part in the summit. Myanmar's leader was excluded, in line with ASEAN's earlier position, and the Philippines is represented by its foreign affairs secretary following its recent presidential election.

President Biden has promised to spend US$150 million on ASEAN infrastructure, security, pandemic preparedness and other efforts.

This includes a US$40 million investment in infrastructure intended to help decarbonise ASEAN's power supply, US$60 million in maritime security, and US$15 million in health funding to aid in early detection of COVID-19 and other respiratory pandemics.

The US President welcomed leaders from Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines for dinner at the White House on Thursday evening, ahead of their meeting with him on Friday where they are expected to exchange views on regional and global issues.

Artmotion Asia

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