Pompeo to announce USA economic initiatives in 'Indo-Pacific'

Pompeo to announce USA economic initiatives in 'Indo-Pacific'

Australia is joining forces with the United States and Japan to pull more private infrastructure investment into poor countries in Asia and the Pacific in what will be a rival vision to China's massive state-led Belt and Road Initiative.

Speaking to business leaders in Washington, Pompeo said the USA would invest US$113m in digital economy, energy and infrastructure in the region and double the government's development finance capacity to US$60bn.

"The Trump administration is committed to expanding our economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region", the secretary said. "The forum will also emphasise the importance of public-private partnerships, the benefits of transparency and good governance, and unlocking the power of markets for sustainable development, and the need for U.S. collaboration with regional partners", she said.

"The Indo-Pacific is an absolute priority of US policymakers in the executive branch and in Congress", Brian Hook, Pompeo's senior policy advisor, told journalists in a conference call.

To burn brightest, this constellation needs the fuel of innovation and sustainable growth, he had said, adding that this is what America's Indo-Pacific strategy will promote. Instead, he said that the government would play a minimal role in the initiatives, unlike China's plans, which are largely state-led.

The trilateral partnership comes as China expands its presence in the region through its large-scale infrastructure investment program called the Belt and Road Initiative. Although under the BUILD Act that recently passed the House and is now before the Senate, the US government's development finance capacity would more than double to $60 billion dollars, that is far from enough for Indo-Pacific's needs, which is $26 trillion for infrastructure by the year 2030. "We thus have never and will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific, and we will oppose any country that does".

"These funds represent just a down payment on a new era in U.S. economic commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region".

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"We'll have contracts that are open and transparent".

"It is a made in China, made for China initiative", Hook said, according to Reuters. The scale of the Belt and Road Initiative - trillions of dollars - means that U.S. assistance will not be able to match up.

While the United States has always been a significant economic player in the Asia-Pacific, U.S. policymakers have also long contended with the problem of how to engage economically with the region relative to other key players.

Pompeo announced at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum that the Millennium Challenge Corporation will implement a $350 million compact with Mongolia to enhance sustainable water supply to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.

He added: "Our way of doing things is to keep government's role very modest, and it is focused on helping businesses to do what they do best".

Through Asia EDGE (which stands for Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy), US will invest almost United States dollars 50 million this year to help Indo-Pacific partners import, produce, move, store, and deploy their energy resources. "This is meant to be an articulation of a robust policy and engagement from the USA, from the government and from the business community and desire to do so in a way that is collaborative and consultative with our partners and counterparts across the region", she said.

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