Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Pompeo to unveil investment push in Indo-Pacific

State Pompeo hosts religious freedom summit at the State Department in Washington Pompeo to unveil investment push in Indo-Pacific | TheHill
Andrew Cummings | 02 August, 2018, 13:17

Without making specific reference to China, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said overnight the Trump administration was seeking "partners, not domination" in the Indo-Pacific.

Asked if the Indo-Pacific Business Forum was responding to China's Belt and Road Initiative, Hook said: "We have a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific".

The partnership is based on a memorandum of understanding to support investment in infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region, signed between the Australian DFAT and US OPIC during Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Washington visit in February.

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.

Pompeo said the United States "will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific", and that "we will oppose any country that does".

The US will invest almost US$50 million this year alone to "help Indo-Pacific partners import, produce, move, store and deploy their energy resources", Mr Pompeo said.

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.

Beijing's BRI calls for half a trillion dollars in investment in infrastructure along trade routes to China, which is expected to overtake the U.S.as the world's largest economy before 2030. It doesn't exclude any nation. "Integrity in businesses' practices is an essential pillar of our Indo-Pacific economic vision".

"These funds represent just a down payment on a new era in USA economic commitment to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region", Pompeo said. The scale of the Belt and Road Initiative - trillions of dollars - means that United States assistance will not be able to match up.

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Government spending by itself "can never address the Indo-Pacific's needs", he added.

Further Asia EDGE or Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy will strengthen energy security and promote energy access across the Indo-Pacific.

Analysts said it was hard to see the USA effort generating much excitement in the region, especially given Trump's habit of undercutting his policy makers on issues ranging from trade to dealings with North Korea.

"Through Asia EDGE, we will invest almost $50 million this year alone to help Indo-Pacific partners import, produce, move, store, and deploy their energy resources", Pompeo said.

Brian Hook, Pompeo's senior policy adviser, told reporters before Pompeo's speech that Washington is not competing with China's mostly state-led initiatives.

"Thanks to this history of economic and commercial engagement, America's relationships throughout the Indo-Pacific today are characterised by mutual trust and respect".

The move comes amid growing concerns about an increase in Chinese influence through the country's One Belt One Road infrastructure program.

American assistance and investment in railways, ports, and other infrastructure helped create a foundation for our South Korean friends to recover, thrive, and build one of the world's great economies one that is now strong enough to aid other countries in their development, he said.

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