Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: U.S. to ‘Deepen Engagement’ in Asia

02 August, 2018, 13:45 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Pompeo to unveil investment push in Indo-Pacific | TheHill

A senior U.S. official said the American investments were not aimed at countering China's Belt and Road Initiative, which involves dozens of countries in an estimated $1 trillion of mostly state-led infrastructure projects linking Asia, parts of Africa and Europe.

Pompeo talked about the Trump administration's strategy for advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific, and why U.S. business engagement is at the centre of it-it's a staple of Washington's mission to promote peace, stability, and prosperity.

According to the Department of Commerce, these events are part of the Department's Access Asia programme - a new export promotion framework to increase U.S. trade and investment in the Indo-Pacific region.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China viewed the move positively and was willing to work "together with relevant countries including the U.S.to boost regional economic growth, stability and prosperity". The statement includes a commitment to partner on economic development in the Indo-Pacific, and goes more specific with a plan on infectious disease reduction and global health security across the Indo-Pacific.

These sectors are foundations of the Indo-Pacific's economic future and the initiatives and funding are designed to accelerate U.S. private-sector investment in the region, support more job-creating United States export opportunities, and also to meet the region's needs for economic growth and development, Hook said, while declining to give details of the funds.

"I am announcing Dollars 113 million in new United States initiatives to support foundational areas of the future: digital economy, energy, and infrastructure".

The $113 million in assistance will clearly not scratch the surface of the financing needs in the Indo-Pacific region. "American friendship is welcomed, and American businesses are recognised for their ingenuity, reliability, and honesty", Pompeo said.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the South China Sea. "This is key to worldwide peace", Mr Pompeo said.

Expanding energy commerce by growing foreign energy markets, expanding public-private partnerships, and fostering business-to-business connections.

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"We do this because we recognise the tremendous economic and social benefits that come with an open, secure, and reliable internet", he said.

These new strategic initiatives will focus on enhancing USA private investment in the region for improving digital connectivity and cyber security, promoting sustainable infrastructure development and strengthening energy security and access, according to the release.

Ray Washburne, president of the USA government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation, said it hopes to double the $4 billion it now has invested in the Indo-Pacific "in the next few years".

He said the USA also launched an Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network to boost the development of infrastructure done right.

Of the $113 million in new investments, $25 million will go towards improving partner countries' digital connectivity; $50 million will be used to import, produce, move, store and deploy energy resources' and almost $30 million will be used to "establish a new inter-agency body to coordinate, strengthen and share USA tools for project scouting, financing, and technical assistance".

Economic analyst Qin Peng, a MBA from Tsinghua University, said that carrying out the Indo-Pacific strategy is a big step for the United States. "We hope they will bring in real money and put forward some concrete measures to promote the welfare of the local people in its real sense", Geng added.

Headed to the region later this week, President Trump will make further announcements on security assistance. "We thus have never and will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific, and we will oppose any country that does". "Only the private sector does".

China's role in the region is set to be high on the agenda at the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum annual meeting in Nauru in September.

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