South Korea will set up a task force to deal with its potential participation in a US- led economic framework, as the US has accelerated preparations to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), Seoul’s trade ministry said Wednesday. The Joe Biden administration has sought to launch the IPEF for deeper cooperation with partner nations in the Asia- Pacific region on digital trade, supply chains and other major emerging trade issues amid an intensifying Sino-US rivalry. The Seoul government is positively reviewing participation in the IPEF and has had consultations with concerned nations, while assessing its potential impact on domestic companies and the broader economy, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. As related discussions have picked up pace in Washington and elsewhere recently, the Seoul government decided to set up a new task force under the trade ministry, which will focus on four major parts of the envisioned framework fair and resilient trade, supply chains, clean energy and anti-corruption, it added.

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“Now is high time to enhance cooperation among regional partners in such new trade fields as supply chains and digital,” Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo said while presiding over the trade promotion committee meeting. He added that the framework would help ensure stable supply chains and create new business opportunities.

The US and 15 Asia-Pacific nations, including South Korea, Japan, India and the ASEAN nations, account for 33 percent of the world’s total population, 41 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and 28 percent of the world’s total trade volume, according to government data.

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