India, US, 12 other IPEF members ink supply chain resilience agreement

India, US, 12 other IPEF members ink supply chain resilience agreement

New Delhi, Nov 15 (PTI) India, the US and 12 other members of the IPEF grouping have signed a supply chain resilience agreement that would provide benefits like potential shifting of production centres in critical sectors and mitigating risks of economic disruptions from supply chain shocks.

The agreement was signed in San Francisco, where Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is attending the ministerial meeting of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework For Prosperity (IPEF).

The agreement would help member countries like India to reduce their dependence on China.

The COVID outbreak severely disrupted the global supply chain, as most countries were dependent on China for various products, like pharma raw materials.

On the social networking platform X, on Wednesday, Goyal said: 'India joins the US and 12 other IPEF partners to ink the IPEF Supply Chain Resilience Agreement, a first-of-its-kind international agreement that will fortify and strengthen global supply chains; and foster adaptability, stability and sustainability'.

Members of the bloc concluded the negotiations on this agreement, one of the four pillars of the IPEF, on May 27, this year in Detroit.

The other benefits of the pact include supply chain diversification, mobilisation of investments, deeper integration of India in global value chains, support to MSMEs and creation of a seamless regional trade ecosystem, which would facilitate the flow of Indian products.

The agreement was signed by the minister, along with the ministers from other IPEF partner countries, the commerce ministry said in a statement.

'The Agreement is expected to make IPEF supply chains more resilient, robust, and well-integrated, and contribute towards economic development and progress of the region as a whole,' it said.

Speaking at the event, Goyal emphasized on enhancing collaboration to realise the collective aims of the IPEF, particularly on the need for mobilising affordable financing for a clean economy transition and for enhancing technology cooperation.

He also urged early implementation of the envisaged cooperative work under IPEF, including on bio-fuels alliance suggested by India.

Further, the Ministers from IPEF partner countries also had productive discussions on the 'substantial' progress made in clean and fair economy pillars.

On the sidelines of the IPEF ministerial, Goyal held bilateral meetings with Gina Raimondo, United States Secretary of Commerce; Tengku Zafrul Aziz, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia.

During the interaction with his counterparts from ASEAN countries, the minister suggested an expedited conclusion of the free trade agreement review exercise.

IPEF was launched jointly by the US and other partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region on May 23 last year in Tokyo.

The framework is structured around four pillars relating to trade, supply chains, clean economy and fair economy (issues like tax and anti-corruption). India has joined all the pillars except the trade one.

The members are expected to announce the conclusion of talks for the clean economy and fair economy pillars during this week.

Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam are members of the bloc.

It would come into force after the implementation of the agreement by any of the five member countries.

According to an official, the commerce ministry is expected to hold an outreach programme pan India for domestic industry, explaining the benefits of the agreement and how to utilise that.

Under the agreement, IPEF partners seek to provide a framework to build their collective understanding of significant supply chain risks; improve crisis coordination and response to supply chain disruptions; facilitate cooperation, mobilise investments, and promote regulatory transparency in sectors and goods critical to national security and public health and safety.

The critical sectors would be identified by the member countries.

To implement and monitor the agreement, the bloc would set up The IPEF Supply Chain Council.

The council will meet every year, and all the members will have to report on the progress of the implementation of the agreement.

Besides the council, the block would set up The IPEF Supply Chain Crisis Response Network and The IPEF Labor Rights Advisory Board.

The network would deal with emergency issues, help partners seek support during a supply chain disruption and facilitate information sharing and collaboration among IPEF partners during a crisis, enabling a faster and more effective response that minimises negative effects on their economies.

On the other hand, the advisory board would help members in promoting labour rights in their supply chains.

Later in the day, when asked about labour issues in this agreement, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said it is basically the harmonisation of regulations on the subject.

'In this, we have agreed that labour is an important element wherever global value chains (GVCs) operate, and if investments have to come, labour regime is very important.

'But, what we have agreed is that it will be applicable as per the domestic labour laws. So, it is nothing beyond the domestic labour laws,' he told reporters here.

He said that it is basically a cooperative mechanism. So, there is no dispute settlement system.

If an investor from IPEF member countries feels that there is some inconsistency, then it will be bilaterally resolved under a cooperation framework, the secretary said.

'So, that is how things will be resolved. It is basically to strengthen the GVCs within the Asia Pacific,' he said, adding that for India to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), it is important that these value chains operate around a certain kind of regulatory regime. PTI RR RR BAL BAL

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