MELBOURNE, July 31: Australia and Japan have joined the United States in a push to invest in infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region, at a time when China is spending billions of dollars on its Belt and Road initiative across Asia.
The move is part of a broader effort by the United States and its allies to reassert their influence in the Pacific amid fears that the region is increasingly susceptible to diplomatic pressure from Beijing.
“The United States, Japan and Australia have formed a trilateral partnership to mobilise investment in projects that drive economic growth, create opportunities, and foster a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the US Overseas Private Investment Corp and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation said in a statement.
The investments will include energy, transportation, tourism and technology infrastructure, with the governments aiming to attract private capital to projects.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced $113 million in new technology, energy and infrastructure initiatives in emerging Asia in a speech defining the economic aspect of President Donald Trump’s “Indo-Pacific” strategy.
Australia has recently stepped up its engagement in the Pacific, allocating it the largest slice of its aid budget, while Japan has also been stepping up its diplomacy in the region, recently opening an embassy in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila.