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USA announces Indo-Pacific initiatives to counter China

02 August 2018

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.

Announcing the initiatives at an open forum of the US Chamber of Commerce business group in Washington on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was seeking a "free and open" Asia without domination by any one country.

Australia has reached a deal with the United States and Japan to invest in projects in the Indo-Pacific region, and promote economic growth.

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.

Noting that government spending alone can never address the Indo-Pacific's needs, and referring to the Asian Development Bank figure that developing countries in the region will need United States dollars 26 trillion for infrastructure alone by 2030, Pompeo said no government or combination of governments has that kind of money.

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Earlier in the day, Pompeo launched the economic and commercial pillars of the Trump administration's Indo-Pacific strategy.

"America will be there and American businesses will be there".

Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University trade professor and former head of the IMF's China division, said the USA initiatives were small in comparison to Chinese investments. "We really do see that India is one of the anchor countries in how we bring this whole region into greater connectivity and really boost commerce and trade across the region", she said.

Four of the world's six largest economies are there as well: China, Japan, India and the US.

As to the role of India in the U.S. strategy, he said the country remained a key partner in efforts to ensure that the entire Indo-Pacific region was a region of peace, stability and growing prosperity. We want it to be free, we want it to be open.

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"It will be a conference and trade mission to India and other surrounding countries where United States exporters will meet with decisionmakers on opportunities they have learned about at DGM (Discover Global Markets) and Access Asia events", the Commerce Department said.

India is a key partner to ensure that the entire region has peace, stability and growing prosperity, he said. "It's high-quality, it's transparent and it is financially sustainable", Hook said. "The fact is that we demonstrate consistently that Australia is very focused on making sure we can help the least-developed economies in our region".

The initiative will grow foreign energy markets and boost U.S. energy exports by expanding public-private partnerships, fostering business-to-business connections, and helping partner governments set market-based energy policies.

Bishop did not name China, but Canberra has been critical of Beijing's Pacific "soft diplomacy" push and has refocused its aid programmes to win hearts and minds in the island nations.

The US also announced strengthened support for important regional institutions, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Lower Mekong Initiative, and the Indian-Ocean Rim Association.

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USA announces Indo-Pacific initiatives to counter China