Indo-Pacific business forum: Quality infrastructure underlined for sustained growth

Over 600 business executives from other Indo-Pacific countries including Bangladesh participated in the program that took place during the three-day 35th ASEAN Summit that began on November 2
The Indo-Pacific countries including Bangladesh requires quality infrastructure to support and sustain their dynamic economic growth while new investment in energy is essential as the demand is set to go up by 60% by 2040.

The observations came at the second Indo-Pacific Business Forum held yesterday in Bangkok, Thailand.

The event was jointly organised by the US and the Thai governments along with the US Chamber of Commerce and US- ASEAN Business Council and Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Over 600 business executives from other Indo-Pacific countries including Bangladesh participated in the program that took place during the three-day 35th ASEAN Summit that began on November 2.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller attended the program, also joined by a business delegation of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh.

"The Indo-Pacific region requires quality infrastructure to support and sustain its dynamic economic growth. For more than 25 years, the US Trade and Development Agency has served as an essential partner, providing the critical assistance and strategic planning to navigate projects from concept to completion," said Thomas R Hardy, acting director, US Trade and Development Agency.

"Hosting the Indo-Pacific Business Forum highlights our continued cooperation with the best of US industry and reaffirms our commitment to the future of this vital part of the world," said Thomas.

United States, the co-organizer, has also came up with financial support as foreign direct investment.

"Strengthened economic cooperation with the United States will continue to bring unparalleled benefits to our friends, partners, and allies across the Indo-Pacific region," Keith Krach, US under secretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment.

"Our longstanding strategic economic relationship in the region is underpinned by an unmatched $1.9 trillion in two-way trade and we will continue to lead the charge as the largest source of foreign direct investment in the Indo-Pacific," said Keith.

"The Trump Administration, through a variety of efforts, is working with our partners around the Indo Pacific to build better, fairer, and more reciprocal relationships. The Indo-Pacific Business Forum is a key piece of this government-wide push, emphasizing our role as the preferred commercial partner in the region," said secretary Wilbur Ross of US Department of Commerce while addressing the inaugural session.

"The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is working with our partners across the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen their economies connecting them with quality made-in-the-USA goods and services," said Kimberly A Reed, president and chairman, Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Meanwhile, the organiser also emphasized the growing demand of energy and developing infrastructure to this end.

"Given the explosive future growth in energy demand in the Indo-Pacific — a 60 percent increase by 2040, the region will need a diversified approach to its energy security," said Francis R Fannon, assistant secretary of state for the bureau of energy resources.

"Through Asia EDGE (Enhancing Energy Development and Growth Through Energy), we are working with governments and the private sector to develop partnerships, catalyzing private-sector-led growth and unleashing the Indo-Pacific's energy potential," he added.

"The Indo-Pacific has a massive need for investment in critical sectors like energy, transportation, and the digital economy. Our focus is on mobilizing private capital for projects that are built to last, respect the environment, create local jobs, ensure transparency, and protect national sovereignty," said David Bohigian, executive vice president, Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

"With these principles at the forefront of our work, OPIC and the new US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), together with the private sector, will help build a foundation for regional prosperity and global connectivity in some of the fastest-growing economies in the world," he added.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADP) for $200 million, which is expected to mobilize up to $7 billion in investment to help perform and expand Asia's energy, from where Bangladesh could gain, said Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, US Department of State, replying to a question.

The State Department and USAID invested nearly S600 million since July 2018 in energy, infrastructure, digital, trade, and governance programming, said a document of the US.

Approximately, one-third of USAID funds in these areas are for expanded trade and competitiveness activities in countries like Bangladesh, Burma, Laos, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, it adds.

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