President Joe Biden of the United States announced on Monday (May 23) that 13 countries have joined a new Asia-Pacific trade initiative led by the United States. China’s aggressive growth in the region is seen as a counterweight to the alliance.

Biden announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) in Tokyo ahead of the Quad Summit in the presence of Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

“The United States and Japan, along with 11 other nations, will launch” the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, Biden stated at a press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“This framework is a pledge to engage with our close friends and allies in the region on the challenges that matter most to guaranteeing economic competitiveness in the twenty-first century,” Biden continued.

The following nations have been named as “initial partners” in the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework:

US

Australia

Brunei

India

Indonesia

Japan

South Korea 

Malaysia

New Zealand

Philippines

Singapore

Thailand

Vietnam

According to the United States, the agreement will allow countries to sort through major challenges like as climate change, supply chain resilience, and digital trade. The agreement does not, however, provide tariff relief or market access to the countries.

Officials told reporters that the framework will aid countries in negotiating various facets of trade as well as discussing how to include prospective future members, including China, which is not participating. Taiwan was likewise excluded from the first discussions.

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