The Korea Herald


Yoon attends IPEF summit to discuss regional economic collaboration

14 member countries agree to launch Critical Mineral Dialogue, personnel exchange network

By Jo He-rim

Published : Nov. 17, 2023 - 17:06

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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (third from left) poses with the leaders of 14 member nations of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, including US President Joe Biden (center), during the summit held in SAn Francisco on Thursday. (Yonhap) South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (third from left) poses with the leaders of 14 member nations of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, including US President Joe Biden (center), during the summit held in SAn Francisco on Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol attended the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework summit in San Francisco on Thursday, where leaders of the 14 member countries discussed strengthening regional economic cooperation.

Yoon is in the US for a three-day trip to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and took part in other multilateral and bilateral meetings, including the IPEF summit hosted by US President Joe Biden.

In 2022, the Biden administration launched the IPEF in an effort to strengthen economic ties in the region while keeping China's growing influence in check.

At the summit, the member countries came to agreement in three of the four pillars of the IPEF -- supply chain, clean economy and fair economy. They failed to come to an agreement on the trade pillar.

The leaders agreed to establish the Critical Mineral Dialogue and IPEF Network to encourage personnel exchanges among the member countries, according to the Industry Ministry.

In the CMD, the members would map out mineral resources and discuss ways to expand trade in chemicals and machinery for mining and smelting critical minerals. The dialogue will also involve discussions for technical cooperation to expand mineral recovery and recycling, the ministry said.

The IPEF Network will be established to encourage personnel exchanges of experts from the member nations to share new ideas and expertise.

The quarterly working meetings will be held starting from next year, and the results will be reported annually to the IPEF ministerial meeting.

In the declaration the leaders issued, they agreed to strengthen the capacity to prevent and respond supply chain disruptions; to promote cooperation and investment to pursue clean energy economy; to combat corruption and improve tax administration for fairer economy; and to come up with mutually beneficial trade agreements.

"The latest agreement is expected to enhance regional supply chain resilience," the presidential office said.

"We also agreed to collect fund worth some $155 billion by 2030 for investment in the clean energy sector, opening big business opportunities for our companies."

The economic initiative, however, fell short of expectations in the trade section, as the members failed to make an agreement for substantial outcomes.

According to US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, there had been “significant progress” in the trade pillar, but is “likely to require further work.”

The 14 IPEF member nations, including South Korea, the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, make up a group of megaeconomies representing 40 percent of the world's GDP.

The size of the trade volume created by the IPEF members is bigger than the two existing, multilateral trade initiatives that the US is not a member of -- Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Yoon attended the IPEF meeting for the second consecutive year, after participating in the launching ceremony held via teleconference last year.

The latest agreements are results of intensive negotiations, including seven formal meetings, several ministerial-level meetings and interministerial meetings over the past year and a half since the launch of the IPEF, the Industry Ministry said.

The agreements will be reviewed at annual ministerial meetings and biennial summits starting next year.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Industry Minister Bang Moon-kyu attended a series of meetings to discuss collaboration with his US counterpart and other business chiefs accompanying the president's US trip.

Taking part in the Korea-US Energy Business Round table event, Bang discussed ways to expand carbon-free energy usage with US Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose Fernandez, and global business chiefs Microsoft Vice President Antony Cook and SK Square Vice President Kim Jeong-il.

Bang also discussed bilateral cooperation on energy supply chain security with the US side.

He met with US climate envoy John Kerry to share thoughts on the ongoing climate change crisis and on ways to improve the situation by utilizing various carbon-free energy sources, including nuclear power and renewable energy.

The Korean industry minister also held separate bilateral meetings with China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Japanese Minister of Economy Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura on the sidelines of the APEC summit.