“The Indo-Pacific, which stretches from the United States west coast to the west coast of India, is a subject of great importance to American foreign policy,” said U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce gathering on Monday, July 30.
President Donald Trump first outlined his vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Vietnam in 2017. The National Security Strategy followed with the same vision.
Now, Secretary Pompeo details why this region of 14 countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam) is one of the greatest current and future engines of the global economy. The Secretary states the American people and the whole world have a stake in the Indo-Pacific’s peace and prosperity, and that is why the Indo-Pacific must be free and open.
The U.S. Chamber hosted three Cabinet secretaries, five agency heads, 15 ambassadors, 20 embassies and 150 business leaders at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Pompeo, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry unveiled several new initiatives while outlining the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific vision.
The webcast of the entire Forum is accessible at the U.S. Chamber website.
New U.S. Initiatives
• Secretary of State Pompeo announced $113 million in new U.S. initiatives to support the digital economy, energy, and infrastructure in the region. Pompeo noted that the initial investment should be seen as a “down payment” and seeks to expand each initiative.
The announcements included: Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership; an Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network: Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy); and Support for Regional Institutions.
• Secretary of Commerce Ross noted that the Commerce Department will be expanding its Digital Attaché program in the region; will post more Foreign Commercial Service officers to the region; and create a joint pilot program between the Department of Commerce and the Department of State aimed at increasing engagement with the business community in the region.
Secretary Ross signaled that the administration would continue with an aggressive strategy on China, citing the current strong U.S. economy as nimble enough to withstand any pain from an escalating trade war.
• Secretary of Energy Perry emphasized the United States as a global energy leader positioned to help Indo-Pacific countries meet their needs for conventional and new, lower-emission energy.
He reinforced U.S. commitment to strengthen energy security, infrastructure, energy access, and energy commerce through the Asia EDGE initiative.
The California Chamber of Commerce supports expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad, and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.
Trade agreements ensure that the United States may continue to gain access to world markets, which will result in an improved economy and additional employment of Americans. The CalChamber urges support of trade agreements that will continue to keep U.S. and California businesses competitive.
The Asia-Pacific region represents nearly half of the earth’s population, one-third of global gross domestic product (GDP) and roughly 50% of international trade. The large and growing markets of the Asia-Pacific already are key destinations for U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, and services suppliers.
During the past decade, however, growth in U.S. exports to Asia has lagged behind overall export growth. The United States is gradually losing market share in trade with Asian countries, which have negotiated more than 160 trade agreements among themselves, while the United States has signed only three with regional economies (South Korea, Singapore and Australia).
Following the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a highlighted Indo-Pacific Vision is welcomed, as this is a key area in geopolitical, strategic, and commercial terms.