USAID’s Role in Advancing the U.S. Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Speeches Shim

USAID’s Role in Advancing the U.S. Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific


Photo: Data courtesy Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC. Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC.

In November 2017, President Donald Trump laid out America’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, in which all nations are independent, strong and prosperous. The Indo-Pacific region is home to the world’s fastest growing markets and offers unprecedented potential to strengthen the U.S. economy while improving lives in Asia and around the world.

The Vision for the Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific region’s continued growth—and the ability of U.S. companies to compete in the region freely and fairly—is hindered by challenges which include poor governance and a lack of infrastructure. On infrastructure, the financing shortfall is massive. According to the Asian Development Bank, the region is only meeting half of what is needed on an annual basis for infrastructure investment in order to maintain growth. Eager to secure quick financing, and enabled by weak regulatory environments, governments are disregarding transparency and entering into opaque, predatory lending schemes that consequently saddle their countries with unsustainable debt, in turn compromising their country’s sovereignty and progress toward self-reliance. The United States recognizes that private investment is the only sustainable solution to the Indo-Pacific’s economic and infrastructure needs. According to the Asian Development Bank, fiscal reforms could help bridge about 40 percent of Asia’s infrastructure financing gap. But the remainder depends on the private sector, which would need to increase its funding by about 300 percent compared to current levels. But greater private sector engagement in the region first requires that governments create the conditions needed to unlock greater private investment, combat corruption and secure their nations’ autonomy from foreign coercion.

In support of the President’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. Government is advancing a whole-of-government approach focused in three areas: creating open and transparent markets to unlock private enterprise-led growth; advancing citizen-responsive governance that adheres to a rules-based order; and building a resilient network of security partners capable of addressing shared threats.

USAID’s Approach to Advancing the Vision

USAID plays a leading role in advancing this vision. Together with our U.S. Government partners, and in coordination with like-minded donor partners including Australia, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan, USAID supports new interagency initiatives and key bilateral and regional efforts focused in three primary areas:

Strengthening democratic systems

Indo-Pacific Transparency Initiative

Unlocking private enterprise-led economic growth

Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network, and Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership Initiatives

Improving Natural Resource Management

Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) Initiative
October 30, 2020

Between October 28 and 29, 2020, at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum hosted virtually out of Hanoi, Vietnam, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick announced new initiatives, partnerships, and funding to promote economic growth led by the private sector that advances the U.S. Government’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

June 25, 2020

The future of clean, sustainable energy begins with us. Together, we have the expertise and the resources to make a difference. Even with the challenges brought by COVID-19, we can use this opportunity to pursue policy and regulatory measures that will link recovery with sustainable energy development. I’d like to close by quoting USAID’s Private Sector Engagement Policy: “Businesses and investors create jobs. They develop and fund technologies and innovation. And they provide critical goods and services.” For USAID and its partner countries, this means that all of you—the private sector—are more than just important stakeholders. You are indispensable partners on countries’ Journeys to Self-Reliance.  

October 16, 2019

USAID is proud to play a major role in advancing the Administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), and projecting strong American leadership on development priorities that advance U.S. economic and national security interests at the heart of ARIA. Under the IPS, the U.S. framework for the region focuses on three pillars: economics, governance, and security. In support of these core pillars, USAID’s strategy to advance the IPS is structured around three objectives, all strongly endorsed by ARIA: strengthening democratic systems, fostering economic growth, and improving the management of natural resources. To advance these objectives in the Indo-Pacific region, the President’s FY 2020 budget request includes a development assistance budget for USAID of $534 million—a 114 percent increase over or a more than doubling of our FY 2019 request. These objectives also go hand-in-hand with our long-standing efforts to improve the lives and well-being of people across Asia as fundamental to creating the foundations for a free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific region. The President’s FY 2020 budget request includes $230 million for USAID’s development assistance in the Indo-Pacific region that is consistent with our vision for the Journey to Self-Reliance, such as programming in health and basic education.

October 8, 2019

On September 27, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced $65 million in new assistance at a meeting with Pacific Island leaders in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly. This new assistance is in addition to $36.5 million announced at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum in August, as well as approximately $350 million that U.S. agencies invest annually in projects, assistance, and operations to build a more prosperous future for the people of the region. Under the Pacific Pledge of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the U.S. Government is committing over $100 million in new U.S. assistance to the region. As part of the Pacific Pledge, USAID plans to provide over $63 million in new programs over the next year, more than doubling development assistance given over previous years.

September 18, 2019

USAID's development and humanitarian assistance is key to achieving prosperity and stability for our partner countries, as well as for the United States. The President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 for USAID’s development assistance in the East Asia-Pacific region is $409 million. This represents an increase of $168 million—or 70 percent—over the Request for FY 2019. In addition, USAID implements HIV/AIDS programming in the East Asia-Pacific region under the President’s Emergency for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that amounted to approximately $50 million in FY 2018. \. The President’s Budget Request supports USAID’s bilateral development programs in Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, The Philippines, the Pacific Islands, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, and regional programs managed out of our Bangkok-based Regional Development Mission for Asia. Of particular note is our request for the Pacific Islands, which reflects the priority this Administration places on this region as a key part of a free and open Indo-Pacific. The President’s Budget Request for the Pacific Islands of $20.5 million represents a 388 percent increase over the Request for FY 2019, and a 56 percent increase over the enacted level for FY 2018.