Over 1,000 business and government leaders from the United States and across the Indo-Pacific region gathered on November 4 in Bangkok for the Indo-Pacific Business Forum to promote the value of high-standard investment, transparency, rule of law, and private-sector-led economic development.
The nearly 200 U.S. business executives in attendance represented some of the world’s most innovative, influential, and trustworthy companies—with a collective annual revenue of over $2.8 trillion. These companies contribute to an annual $1.9 trillion in two-way trade in goods and services between the United States and the countries in the Indo-Pacific region and help make the United States the largest source of foreign direct investment into the region. Over 600 business executives from other Indo-Pacific countries participated in the Forum.
The Indo-Pacific Business Forum was headlined by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, U.S. State Department Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach, Export Import Bank (EXIM) Chairman Kimberly Reed, U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) Acting Director Thomas Hardy, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Executive Vice President David Bohigian, and U.S. Agency for International Development Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick. The Forum was co-hosted by the U.S. and Thai governments, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, and the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Secretary Ross led a business delegation of U.S. companies to the Indo-Pacific Business Forum to explore deals, with additional stops in Indonesia and Vietnam. Companies on the delegation include: AES Corporation, Baxter International, Bechtel, Bell Textron, Boeing, Capstone Turbine Company, Cheniere Energy, Citi, Honeywell International, LNG Limited/Magnolia LNG, Lockheed Martin, Qualcomm, Securiport, Sierra Nevada, Tellurian, Tesla, and Varian Medical Systems, as well as the American Council of Engineering Companies.
Under Secretary Krach led a panel discussion on “Fostering a Vibrant Digital Economy in the Indo-Pacific,” discussing how innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital economy will catalyze regional growth, with panel participants from HP, Inc. Underwriter Laboratories, and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).
The U.S. officials and business executives at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum highlighted a range of commercial deals and new initiatives, including:
New U.S. Deals in Indo-Pacific
- Since July 2018, the Department of Commerce has assisted more than 9,000 U.S. companies to do business in the Indo-Pacific region and facilitated more than $7.65 billion in U.S. exports, of which, $3.1 billion was for government tenders won by U.S. firms.
- The Department of Commerce also assisted over 2,500 Indo-Pacific companies seeking to invest in the United States facilitating $18 billion of inward investment into the United States from the Indo-Pacific.
- The Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center, which is focused on supporting U.S. exporters pursuing public sector projects, currently has 412 active cases in the Indo-Pacific valued at approximately $631 billion, with approximately $491 billion in potential U.S. exports.
- The Government of Vietnam approved Virginia-based AES Corporation’s 2 gigawatt combined cycle gas turbine power plant in September 2019, representing an investment of $1.5 billion. The power plant is expected to begin commercial operations in 2024. Together with the $1.3 billion Son My LNG import terminal, the plant represents a total investment of almost $3 billion and will play a major role in shaping Vietnam’s energy future by diversifying the energy mix.
- Thailand-based Indorama Ventures, a major producer of polyester and polyethylene terephthalate, announced it is acquiring $2 billion worth of petrochemical assets from the Huntsman Corporation, including three sites in Texas.
- New York-based GE Power announced a $390 million power plant near Dhaka, Bangladesh, that will supply power to 700,000 homes by 2022. GE Power also developed the $350 million Meghnaghat 600 megawatt natural gas power plant near Dhaka that is expected to start commercial operations by 2021, and the $1.2 billion combined cycle power plant in Taiwan that will generate $720 million in U.S. export content.
- Florida-based APR Energy invested in a 300 MW power plant at the port of Dhaka and will support more than 100 sustainable jobs for Bangladeshis.
- Warburg Pincus invested $250 million in Converge ICT in the Philippines to expand quality broadband service in unserved and underserved regions of the country.
- Boeing’s “Kacific” satellite will launch on December 15 and provide high-quality, low-cost broadband access in Indonesia, Philippines, and Pacific Island countries to enable these remote areas to connect and participate in the digital world.
- Texas-based Excelerate recently commissioned a floating storage and regasification unit at the Summit LNG terminal to double Bangladesh’s LNG import capacity, building on Excelerate’s$500 million investment in the Moheshkhali floating LNG terminal, Bangladesh’s first LNG import infrastructure.
- Coca-Cola announced investment plans in excess of $200 million in Bangladesh through 2024. The company supports 29,300 jobs throughout the country and estimates that one Coca-Cola job supports 48 other jobs in Bangladesh.
New U.S. and Partner Efforts to Advance a Free & Open Indo-Pacific
- Since the beginning of the Trump Administration, U.S. government agencies have invested more than $2.9 billion to support the economic pillar of the Indo-Pacific strategy. This investment will be buttressed by the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC), created by the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act of 2018. DFC will be at the forefront of our Indo-Pacific economic engagement with $60 billion in development finance to leverage greater private sector investment in emerging markets.
- The State Department and USAID invested nearly $600 million since July 2018 in energy, infrastructure, digital, trade, and governance programming. 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.
- The United States, Japan, and Australia announced the Blue Dot Network concept, with an aim to advance infrastructure investment and provide a globally recognized seal of approval for high-quality infrastructure projects. The United States is excited to coordinate with partners, such as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), due to their years of experience and track-record of impactful investing.
- The Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership between the United States, Japan, and Australia announced its inaugural joint projects in 2019 in partnership with host governments, other donors, finance institutions and the private sector, including a range of projects collectively worth up to $400 million to support the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership.
- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank for $200 million, which is expected to mobilize up to $7 billion in investment to help reform and expand Asia’s energy sector.
- The United States and Japan signed a strategic partnership statement to coordinate an additional $10 billion in Japanese investment in regional LNG development with the U.S. Asia EDGE initiative, further promoting joint and collaborative U.S.-Japanese activities by facilitating financing for projects throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
- EXIM and Japan’s Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) signed a Co-Financing Agreement to expand EXIM’s ability to reinsure NEXI, significantly enhancing the opportunities for joint U.S.-Japan financing and cooperation in the development of LNG projects.
- The State Department and USAID invested an additional $47.9 million this year in the Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network (ITAN) to bolster private sector investment in high-standard infrastructure development.
- The State Department and USAID provided $26.5 million in funding this year for the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership to provide technical assistance and capacity building for Indo-Pacific partner nations.
- The U.S. Treasury Department signed Infrastructure Finance and Market Building Agreements with South Korea and Singapore to attract private sector financing, develop local debt and capital markets, bolster utility creditworthiness, and attract institutional investors into infrastructure in emerging markets in the Indo-Pacific region.
- USTDA also signed a grant with the Virgo Group, an Indian engineering and services firm, to pilot Rapid Thermal Processing technology from U.S. company Envergent Technologies that will convert agricultural waste to bio-crude in the state of Punjab, reducing air pollution and creating new fuel sources in India.
- OPIC invested $350 million toward six new solar and wind-power generation facilities in India, led by ReNew Power Limited; and a $185 million loan to Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company to formalize financial services for rural and underbanked areas.
- USTDA, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and U.S. industry partners are launching a S.-Southeast Asia Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP) to design technical assistance, events and training programs that address the region’s aviation needs and showcase U.S. companies’ technical expertise.
See The Department of State’s A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision https://www.state.gov/a-free-and-open-indo-pacific-advancing-a-shared-vision/ & USAID’s Snapshot of U.S. Government Progress https://www.usaid.gov/indo-pacific-vision/econ for more detail on U.S. commercial priorities in the Indo-Pacific.