IPEF members agree to start negotiations

Trade ministers from Japan, the United States and 12 other nations have agreed to officially start negotiations on a new regional economic initiative for the Indo-Pacific.

On Friday in Los Angeles, they wrapped up their first in-person talks on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, or IPEF.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo made the announcement at a news conference.

Tai said, "This meeting was a chance to deepen our partnerships and fill in the details about how we will work collectively to address the challenges and opportunities that will define the 21st century."

The 14 nations also include India and Australia.

Digitizing trade and strengthening supply chains for key items such as semiconductors are among the four pillars being negotiated.

The US proposed IPEF in light of China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi told reporters that he wants to start negotiations as soon as possible.

He also said Japan will take the initiative alongside the US to advance the framework.