Pompeo to announce US economic initiatives in ‘Indo-Pacific’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

"So just as the United States made foundational contributions in the past, today I am announcing $113 million in new us initiatives to support foundational areas of the future: digital economy, energy, and infrastructure".

Amid increased USA trade frictions with China, Pompeo's announcement sought to build on President Donald Trump's "Indo Pacific" strategy that aims to cast the United States as a trustworthy partner in the region.

Pompeo says despite withdrawing from the deal, American companies are continuing to advance USA economic interests in the region.

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.

"With American companies, citizens around the world know that what you see is what you get: honest contracts, honest terms, and no need for off-the-books mischief", Pompeo said at an Indo-Pacific Business Forum at the US Chamber of Commerce.

Pompeo is likely to make announcements about the pact's funding arrangements during his visit to Asia, which will include Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, according to Stephen Kirchner, director of trade and investment programme at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

U.S. secretary of state Pompeo says not looking for dominance, denies initiatives are aimed at countering China. And while he spoke about leveraging these initiatives with United States allies and partners in the region, he said little about what Washington would pursue, with whom, and where.

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"In both scale and scope, these initiatives pale in ambition relative to comparable initiatives by China", Prasad said.

"By working together we can attract more private capital to achieve greater results".

"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".

Pompeo said the United States has signed a $350 million investment compact with Mongolia to develop new sources of water supply. Instead, he said that the government would play a minimal role in the initiatives, unlike China's plans, which are largely state-led. (The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor alone is a $62 billion investment pledged to date.) Pompeo referenced legislation on Capitol Hill, the BUILD Act, which would create a consolidated USA agency for development finance through merging the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Development Credit Authority of USAID.

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

"If the United States and other countries are willing to increase their investment in regional infrastructure and interconnection projects, we would like to extend our welcome and hold an open and inclusive attitude to these initiatives".

The three partners said in a joint statement that good investments stem from transparency, open competition, sustainability, adhering to robust global standards, employing the local workforce, and avoiding unsustainable debt burdens.

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