US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stated that an Indo-Pacific economic framework may be launched early next year, and that her trip to Asia was intended to set the groundwork for future collaborations.

Raimondo said, "We are likely to undertake a more formal process in the beginning of next year, which will result in a proper economic framework in the region."

When asked whether that meant an actual agreement, she answered "yeah, exactly."

Last month, President Joe Biden announced that Washington would begin discussions with Indo-Pacific countries about building a regional economic framework.

Raimondo stated that she was in Tokyo prior to her visit to Singapore and that her next stop will be Malaysia.

After US President Donald Trump withdrew in 2017 from a US-inspired trade deal, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, critics of the US policy for the area point to its lack of an economic component.

In September, China announced that it had submitted an application to join the CPTPP trade agreement, which was signed in 2018 by 11 nations including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, and New Zealand.

"This isn't a discussion about China. This is about forging strong commercial and economic ties with our Indo-Pacific partners, with whom we have had a robust, long-standing relationship, but for the past few years" Raimondo said.