The remarks came after the Asia Business Daily, citing government sources, said the government of President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is set to be sworn in on Tuesday, had decided to join the pact on its launch. The launch is expected after a visit from May 20 to 24 by President Joe Biden to Japan and South Korea, where Yoon’s incoming administration has signaled it seeks closer alignment with the U.S.-led trade and diplomatic order.
A government official said on Monday that South Korea is “positively contemplating” joining an Indo-Pacific economic deal proposed by the US, after domestic media reported that the new administration had opted to join as a founding member. The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) could be launched as early as this month, filling a void in engagement with the region that has existed since 2017, when then-President Donald Trump pulled out of a multinational agreement that became the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). “It is listed in 110 national responsibilities that the next government is positively examining,” a South Korean finance ministry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in accordance with government policy.
Participation in the pact was one of the aspects considered in the reviews performed by Yoon’s transition team, added the official, who declined to confirm the media report, however. The daily said the United States seeks the participation of major regional economies, from Australia and Japan to New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea.
Yoon’s government wants South Korea to “lead trade conditions in the Indo-Pacific region” by joining both key pacts and seeking to revive a third, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a transition panel document showed.
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