U.S.-led Pacific economic initiative makes progress on clean energy

The United States and 13 other Indo-Pacific countries on Tuesday set the stage for their leaders to agree later this week on ways to collectively promote environmentally friendly and fair commercial activities.

As part of efforts to push the use of clean energy, the countries participating in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework confirmed they will establish a fund at a ministerial meeting in San Francisco, with Australia, Japan and the United States vowing to chip in $10 million each in seed money, officials said.

Japanese trade and industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that "very big progress" was made on the specifics of how to improve measures relating to the use of clean energy and anti-corruption.

After the two-day meeting, Nishimura said the results will be reported to the nations' leaders and finalized at a meeting between them.

U.S. President Joe Biden launched the initiative, known as IPEF, in Japan in May 2022, as his administration seeks to counter China's increasing geo-economic clout.

The 14-member framework, not including China, is also intended to restore U.S. leadership in the world's fastest-growing region after Biden's predecessor Donald Trump pulled out of the more ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal in 2017.

Since the IPEF members entered talks in September 2022, they have been trying to make common rules and standards across four pillars -- trade, supply chains, clean energy and infrastructure, and tax and anti-corruption.

The ministers could not narrow differences on some trade issues on the first day of the meeting on Monday but they agreed to continue discussions.

The countries already stuck a deal on steps to strengthen supply chains in May and they signed an accord on Tuesday. The remaining sectors of the framework, besides trade, are expected to take effect as soon as at the end of this year after legal procedures are completed, according to the officials.

Biden and the leaders of other IPEF countries, including Japan and South Korea, plan to hold a meeting on Thursday in San Francisco on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

The leaders will endorse what has been achieved in the last year and details will be announced, the officials said.

© Kyodo News