South Korea considers joining U.S. Indo-Pacific pact

South Korea considers joining U.S. Indo-Pacific pact

SEOUL Reuters -- South Korea is positively considering joining an Indo-Pacific economic pact planned by the United States, a government official said on Monday after domestic media said the incoming administration had decided to join as a founding member.

A South Korean finance ministry official said that the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework IPEF could launch soon this month to fill a gap in engagement with the region since 2017, when President Donald Trump left a multinational deal that became the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership CPTPP. It is listed in 110 national tasks that the incoming government is positively considering, and is expected to launch soon this month.

The government sources said that the government of President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is due to be sworn in on Tuesday, has decided to join the pact on its launch.

The incoming administration has signalled that it wants closer alignment with the U.S. led trade and diplomatic order, which is due to a visit by President Joe Biden to Japan and South Korea from May 20 to 24.

Participation in the pact was one of the aspects considered in the reviews performed by Yoon's transition team, according to the official who declined to confirm the media report.

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 attempting to revive a third, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership RCEP a transition panel document showed.