South Korea's presidential office refuted claims that the US-proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) aims to keep China out of global supply chains on Thursday. A presidential official told reporters ahead of South Korea's expected membership in the IPEF that China's apparent misgivings about the framework are unfounded.
"In my opinion, we are not pressing for an agreement so much as we are providing a platform where we can collaborate," the official said on the condition of anonymity. "It makes me wonder if they're being unduly sensitive," the official said, citing sources.
IPEF is a proposal made by US President Joe Biden in October to assure safe and robust supply chains, establish digital economy norms, and invest in clean, modern, and high-standard infrastructure. President Yoon Suk-yeol is anticipated to announce South Korea's membership in the grouping during his Saturday meeting with Vice President Joe Biden in Seoul.
China's concerns that IPEF would lead to a "decoupling" between China and South Korea were dismissed by the official, who noted that two-way trade had hit an all-time high last year. "Through follow-up negotiations on the South Korea-China free trade agreement, we've told the Chinese that we need build a framework to manage reliable supply chains," the official said, adding that the trade ministry will begin preparations soon. "We have no intention of excluding China."