Joining Biden's IPEF is a no-brainer

2022. 5. 19. 21:50
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South Korea will announce it's joining the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) U.S. President Joe Biden will be launching during his Asian tour. The IPEF will be..

South Korea will announce it’s joining the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) U.S. President Joe Biden will be launching during his Asian tour. The IPEF will be a key agenda item at the upcoming Korea-U.S. summit along with strengthening of deterrence against North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

In a National Assembly address earlier this week, President Yoon Suk-yeol said he would discuss with Biden ways to strengthen the alliance in global supply chains through the IPEF.

The IPEF is designed to build a new cooperative framework for fair trade and stable supply chains. It groups liberal democracy states for economic and trade cooperation while isolating China. The United States touts it as a new model for economic involvement and commerce. Economics and security have become one. The traditional perspective of turning to the U.S. for security and China for economic benefit no longer holds. Korea is not being dragged into the framework as an ally to the United States. South Korea has benefited greatly from free trade.

It cannot stay passive in a new order among liberal democracy states to uphold universal values and international trade rules. It is natural for the Yoon government to join the IPEF as it had set the goal of becoming a global core state contributing to world freedom, peace, and prosperity as one of six key state tasks.

Economic interests must be considered. South Korea is a major exporter of semiconductors and high-tech products and plays a crucial role in global supply chains. Joining the IPEF is a must, not a choice, given the downside risks if South Korea stalls or refuses membership.

China’s protest is foreseeable. During a video conference with his Korean counterpart Park Jin, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi reminded him that the colossal Chinese market would provide long-term growth and advised Seoul to reject options that could “decouple” the two economies. He was more or less warning of restricted access to the Chinese market if Korea joins the IPEF.

Vice President Wang Qishan, who attended Yoon’s inauguration, made a similar comment. South Korea must resist such pressure, while persuading Chinese officials that our economic relationship will stay important.

As Korea joined the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, it can also join U.S.-led economic partnerships. Seoul also must be ready for retaliatory actions from Beijing.

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