Pompeo Outlines Strategy to Boost Indo-Pacific Economies

02 August, 2018, 13:20 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Pompeo to unveil investment push in Indo-Pacific | TheHill

"Trade Winds: India - will take place in New Delhi in the spring of 2019", the Department of Commerce announced, the day the Trump Administration unleashed a series of initiatives addressed at development and infrastructure projects of countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., Pompeo said the investments will build "strategic partnerships, not strategic dependency".

According to Jonathan Swan of Axios, who received a briefing on the speech on Sunday, the Trump administration is seeking to convince US partners in the "Indo-Pacific" region that a bolstered trade relationship with the United States is the best long term play for their interests.

Pompeo said he would visit Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia this week, where he planned to announce new security assistance.

The U.S. "will not seek dominance in the Indo-Pacific, and will oppose any country that does", he said.

In an apparent warning to China, without mentioning it by name, Mr Pompeo said the USA would oppose any country that seeks domination in the region.

Reuters noted that the initiative is part of a broader effort by the United States and its allies to reassert their influence in the Pacific amid fears that the region is increasingly susceptible to diplomatic pressure from Beijing, which is spending billions of dollars on its Belt and Road initiative.

"We work very closely with India ... and so the United States and India are working bilaterally, and we also do that in cooperation with other like-minded partners, especially Japan and Australia, Korea, to advance our shared vision of the Indo-Pacific", Hook added.

Ray Washburne, president of the USA government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation, also said the agency has $4 billion invested in the region and hopes to double that figure "in the next few years".

The announcement comes at a time when trade frictions with China have given United States trade diplomacy a sharper edge.

The US Department of Commerce (DOC), through Access Asia programme, proposes to dedicate 25 events, and its 2019 flagship trade mission, to connecting American firms with Indo-Pacific markets.

On Saturday in Singapore, he will meet foreign ministers of East Asia Summit member states - Asean plus Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, South Korea and Russian Federation.

Should this pass, the United States would be better enabled to underwrite riskier private sector investments in developing countries - something long overdue.

"It is a made-in-China, made-for-China initiative", Hook told reporters on a conference call.

The Trump administration strategy to build influence with a regional grouping identified as the "Indo-Pacific", which includes the U.S. west coast, South East Asian nations and India, is seen as a response to China's Belt and Road initiative.

The Chinese state-sponsored initiative has constructed billions of dollars worth of ports, roads, bridges, railways and communication networks but is regarded by critics as a strategic play that is not always in the interests of the countries receiving the infrastructure.

"This is created to provide mechanism that will allow more private-sector funding for the infrastructure projects that countries in this region need", Kirchner said.

"The announcement of $113 million to fund economic engagement for the entire region feels a bit underwhelming", said Daniel Russel of the Asia Society Policy Institute, until a year ago the State Department's top diplomat for East Asia. It supported transformational agricultural efforts, such as the Green Revolution, which forever improved the farming of wheat and rice worldwide and nowhere more than in the Indo-Pacific, he said.


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