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Indo-Pacific Economic Framework future is unclear

An ag trade consultant says the path forward on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is unclear following a meeting on the initiative in mid-November.

“I expect the U.S. government is trying to figure out how to move forward and hopefully, they can.”

Sharon Bomer-Lauritsen says the 14 countries involved couldn’t come to agreement on strong environmental and labor provisions, which puts the framework on hold.

“The decision the Biden administration made was to not conclude negotiations and all of the countries agreed to continue the discussions.”

She says that might be difficult in an election year and it’s unclear if there will ever be an agreement on the trade pillar of the framework, the portion that would affect U.S. agriculture. Bomer-Lauritsen tells Brownfield there are rule updates being considered in the trade pillar.

“IPEF negotiators are working on what countries have to do to make sure food safety, animal health and plant health rules and regulations are fair and science-based,” she says. “There are unique things about IPEF. Negotiators have worked to have a common approach to agricultural sustainability in a way that counters what the European Union has been proffering around the world. That would be important to have a common approach in southeast Asia, looking at how we look at ag sustainability and any regulations tied to that.”

Bomer-Lauritsen says biotechnology provisions like what’s included in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement are likely to be included in the trade pillar of IPEF.

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