U.S. hosts forum to advance Indo-Pacific prosperity

Colorful lights from high-rise buildings reflecting on body of water at night (© Shutterstock)
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has helped Vietnam plan for development of electricity infrastructure. Ho Chi Minh City (above) is Vietnam's largest city. (© Shutterstock)

The United States and Vietnam are hosting a forum this month to further drive economic growth and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is sponsoring the Indo-Pacific Business Forum October 28 to 29 in Hanoi, continuing the U.S. government’s long-standing commitment to infrastructure development in the region. The forum will be held virtually and in person.

“This gathering reaffirms America’s historic role in the Pacific advancing peace, enhancing opportunity and delivering increased economic growth around the region and all around the world,” USTDA Chief Operating Officer Todd Abrajano says in a welcome letter for the event.

For decades, the United States has supported growth in the Indo-Pacific, advancing more than 800 infrastructure and development projects, Abrajano says. Promoting responsible development and a transparent business environment is vital to the region’s continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the forum’s agenda.

In recent years, American businesses have announced more than 1,500 new projects and more than $61 billion in new investments across the Indo-Pacific region, Vice President Pence said in November 2018.

For example, the United States and partner nations have invested in new electrical infrastructure that will bring light and power to 70% of the population of Papua New Guinea by 2030. Only 13% of the country had access to electricity as of 2018.

This year’s business forum will discuss economic development in the communications, transportation, energy and public health sectors, among others. Panel topics will include public and private sector approaches to infrastructure development to support recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting mutually beneficial trade, connecting global and regional markets, and strengthening the workforce of Southeast Asian nations.

Many investment projects underway in the region have benefited from international partnerships, including those with American involvement. A planned expansion of the Chennai Metro Rail system will add three corridors and 116 stations to India’s third-largest metro system, according to USTDA. Japan has provided a loan for the project, and companies from the United States, Europe and Asia are serving as consultants.

Plans for a new rail hub and smart city system in Bangkok will improve commuting in the capital city area, while also bringing new residences, offices and a sports complex.