Australia, US and Japan sign regional pact

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

In a major speech overnight, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced a $113 million package of new economic initiatives.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement in a keynote address at the US Chamber of Commerce's Indo-Pacific Business Forum, days before he leaves for Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Pompeo said the United States remains committed "to economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific because of the national security benefits for the American people and our partners". "We seek to work with anyone to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, so long as that cooperation adheres to the highest standards that our citizens demand". To realise that potential, countries of the Indo-Pacific will need to attract almost Dollars 26 trillion in capital from the private sector and not the government to fund their energy and infrastructure needs, Nisha Desai Biswal, president of the US India Business Council (USIBC) said.

"When you look at the democracies spanning the Indo-Pacific region, from the US, India, Japan, and other very strong democracies that span the Indo Pacific, we share an interest in advancing security and prosperity in the region", Hook said.

He asserted that it is clear a big part of America's global economic future is in the Indo-Pacific.

Last year, President Trump said in Vietnam, the Indo-Pacific is "a attractive constellation of nations, each its own bright star, satellites to none - and each one a people, a culture, a way of life, a home". "It is a made in China, made for China initiative".

"We believe in strategic partnerships, not strategic dependency", he said. He said the United States had committed $113m to new investments in cybersecurity and the digital economy, energy and infrastructure spending. We supported transformational agricultural efforts, such as the Green Revolution, which forever improved farming of wheat and rice worldwide - and nowhere more than in the Indo-Pacific. "I won't give you the full history, but I will note how the United States has played a foundational role in enabling the growth, development, and wealth we see across the Indo-Pacific today", he added. We want the peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime disputes.

That money will help countries in the region grow their economies in the digital and energy sectors.

The secretary of state conceded that some nations may doubt USA commitments to the region after Trump quit talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But the U.S. wants partnerships, not domination, he added.

The US Department of Commerce (DOC), through Access Asia programme, proposes to dedicate 25 events, and its 2019 flagship trade mission, to connecting American firms with Indo-Pacific markets.

"For that to happen, Indo-Pacific leaders must prioritize transparency, anti-corruption, and responsible financing". Still, he frequently sought to frame USA companies as the better partners for countries seeking foreign investment.

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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