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

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday launched the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington DC as the economic pillar for his country's Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Australia, the United States, and Japan are set to establish a trilateral partnership to invest in infrastructure and promote economic development and peace in the Indo-Pacific region, the Australian government said on Tuesday.

"Like so many of our Asian allies and friends, our country fought for its own independence from an empire that expected deference", Pompeo said, adding, "We thus have never and will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific, and we will oppose any country that does".

"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".

"It is clearly in America's strategic interest to deepen engagement in the region", Pompeo said.

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

"I've said on many occasions that we welcome investment in the Pacific that adheres to global standards of transparency, accountability, engaging local workforces and ensuring that unsustainable debt isn't imposed on the recipient nations".

"Our strategy seeks to catalyze American businesses to do what they do best in the region".

The US is set to spend $113m on digital economy, energy and infrastructure in Asia, a move seen as an attempt to counter China's growing influence. Although under the BUILD Act that recently passed the House and is now before the Senate, the USA government's development finance capacity would more than double to $60 billion dollars, that is far from enough for Indo-Pacific's needs, which is $26 trillion for infrastructure by the year 2030. We want it to be free, we want it to be open. "It's high-quality, it's transparent and it is financially sustainable", Hook said.

When asked about Pompeo's remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the International Monetary Fund has its own standards and regulations when cooperating with related countries.

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Pompeo went on to tell the audience, "I speak for President Trump when I say every nation and business can have confidence that the United States will continue to create the conditions for mutual prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific".

In the '60s, we grew partnerships to address basic developmental needs. "I won't give you the full history, but I will note how the U.S. has played a foundational role in enabling the growth, development, and wealth we see across the Indo-Pacific today", he added.

The measures include a US$25 million initial investment to improve digital connectivity in partner countries and to expand opportunities for United States technology exports. But Pompeo did not offer any outline of specific diplomatic partnerships with like-minded countries or companies that would leverage United States funding for bigger impact.

He also announced strengthened support for important regional institutions in the Indo-Pacific, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and US-ASEAN Connect, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Lower Mekong Initiative, along with a first-ever contribution to the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

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