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
June 13, 2019

USAID’s development and humanitarian assistance is key to achieving prosperity and stability for our partner countries, as well as the United States. The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request for USAID’s development assistance in South Asia is $332.3 million, which represents a 73 percent increase over FY 2019’s request. This request supports USAID’s programs in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.