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Fiji has been welcomed into the White House's Indo-Pacific economic agenda

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - The White House said on Thursday that Fiji has joined US President Joe Biden 's Indo-Pacific Economic...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - The White House said on Thursday that Fiji has joined US President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), making it the first Pacific Island country to do so. The plan is part of a US effort to counter China's expanding regional influence.

The statement comes as China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarks on a wide tour of Pacific Island nations, including Fiji, in a region that is increasingly tense as Beijing and Washington compete for influence.

Wang came in the region this week, seeking a 10-country security and economic deal with island states there, which has alarmed the US and its Pacific allies.

Fiji was welcomed as a founding member of the IPEF, which now includes countries from Northeast and Southeast Asia, South Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific Islands, according to the White House.

"We are unified in our commitment to a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement, highlighting Fiji's important role in the battle against climate change.

IPEF now represents the complete regional variety of the Indo-Pacific, according to a senior government official.

During his first trip to Asia as president, Biden officially inaugurated IPEF earlier this week. Asia has been clamoring for more U.S. economic engagement.

Fiji is the 14th country to join the IPEF discussions, which are open to all countries except China.

Since former President Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral trans-Pacific trade pact, citing concerns about U.S. jobs, Washington has been without an economic pillar in its Indo-Pacific involvement.

IPEF is unlikely to include formal obligations, and the concept has been criticized by certain Asian governments and trade experts.

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