A Fijian inter-agency delegation, consisting experts in trade, digital economy, anti-corruption, taxation, climate change, biosecurity and labour, participated in the second round of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) negotiations in Bali, Indonesia.
The Bali Round which ran from 13 to 19 March 2023, focused on the four pillars of the IPEF: trade; supply chain; clean economy; and fair economy (taxation & anti-corruption) and Fiji’s delegation was led by the Permanent Secretary for Trade, Co-operative, SMEs and Communications, Shaheen Ali.
The IPEF brings together some of the largest and most dynamic economies in the Indo-Pacific region, accounting for around 40 percent of global Gross Domestic Product.
Negotiators from 13 other countries, led by the United States, including, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam also participated in the Bali negotiating round.
In the second full negotiating round, discussions advanced on the text of Pillars II-IV (supply chain, clean economy and fair economy).
In Pillar I, members had initial discussions on the text of chapters that included agriculture, digital economy, services domestic regulation, domestic regulatory practices, environment, labour, competition, inclusivity and technical assistance & economic cooperation.
Ali said Fiji’s participation in the IPEF negotiations will provide numerous benefits, including increased foreign investment, enhanced trade relations and economic cooperation with other members of the IPEF.
“It will also seek to build supply chain resilience with the support of partners, improving the regulatory environment for businesses, together with advancing climate change and environmental goals.”
“Additionally, Fiji’s participation in the IPEF negotiations will provide a robust and formal platform for Fiji to enhance its connectivity and integration with the Indo-Pacific Region, which includes Fiji’s major trading partners.”
He also emphasised the need for a balanced and equitable framework that addresses the challenges faced by less developed members like Fiji, whilst pursuing economic advancements in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Our objective in the negotiations was synonymous to other members. We aim for high ambitions, high standards agreement while recognising the different levels of development and economic characteristics of members so that every member benefits.”
In September 2022, IPEF partners issued ministerial statements, which outline the scope of negotiations for the four IPEF pillars.
The first IPEF negotiating round was held in Los Angeles, in December 2022, in Brisbane and a special negotiating round on Pillars II-IV was held in February 2023, in New Delhi.
“The Fiji Government remains committed to promoting economic development and growth and participation in the IPEF negotiations is an essential step towards achieving this goal,” Ali added.