Mike Pompeo previews 'down payment' on Asia investment

Mike Pompeo previews 'down payment' on Asia investment

The United States' first outlined its strategy to develop the Indo-Pacific economy at an Asia-Pacific summit previous year.

"President Trump will strike while the iron is hot, because there are clear economic benefits at hand for the American people".

The Indo-Pacific region, he said, has been an important region for a while, but the Trump administration is taking this incredibly seriously.

Pompeo said America was seeking a "free and open" Asia without domination by any one country, in what appeared to be a reference to China's growing economic clout and heightened tensions in the disputed South China Sea.

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.

He launched new initiatives to accelerate U.S. private investment and support job-creating USA export opportunities in the areas of digital economy, infrastructure, and energy.

"Because our allies and our partners are essential to our goals in the Indo-Pacific, we want to expand economic investment and development", Hook said in a phone conference with journalists from across Asia and the Pacific.

That work will continue, he maintained, as "it is clearly in America's strategic interest to deepen engagement in the Indo-Pacific region". "American friendship is welcomed, and American businesses are recognised for their ingenuity, reliability, and honesty", Pompeo said.

"It's an event that brings together business, the private sector and many of our partners from the region to kind of have a conversation about how we boost engagement investment across the Indo Pacific", Biswal, a key player in this initiative, told PTI ahead of the first Forum.

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Responding to a question on countries who have been part of the OBOR projects, Pompeo said some of the countries who have engaged in that find themselves in a place that they are not happy about.

The measures include a US$25 million initial investment to improve digital connectivity in partner countries and to expand opportunities for USA technology exports.

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.

Pompeo offered news about a new $113 million allocation to promote digital, energy, and infrastructure connectivity in the Indo-Pacific.

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

"This whole-of-government initiative, seeded with almost United States dollars 30 million, establishes a new interagency body to coordinate, strengthen, and share U.S. tools for project scouting, financing, and technical assistance".

"The American people and the whole world have a stake in the Indo-Pacific's peace and prosperity, it is why the Indo-Pacific must be free and open", he stressed.

Headed to the region later this week, President Trump will make further announcements on security assistance.

"When we say we want a "free" Indo-Pacific, it means we want all nations to be able to protect their sovereignty from coercion by others".

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