Amid concerns over China’s growing influence in the South Asian region, the United States has pledged over USD 150 million in investment to the ASEAN for maritime cooperation, infrastructure, and other initiatives.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden starts a two-day summit on Thursday with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Washington.
“President Biden is announcing over $150 million in initiatives which we expect will mobilize billions more in private financing that will deepen U.S.-ASEAN relations, strengthen ASEAN centrality, and expand our common capacity to achieve our shared objectives,” the White House said.
Reports say that China’s economic and political profile has expanded unusually quickly in Southeastern, Central, and Eastern Europe and South Asia.
The US ASEAN gathering is intended to demonstrate the commitment the United States has to the Indo-Pacific, where China has been increasing its clout and making extensive claims in regional waters.
“United States is committed to supporting implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’s Maritime Pillar. Today we are announcing USD 60 million in new regional maritime initiatives, most of which will be led by the US Coast Guard (USCG),” the White statement read.
It is the first time the United States has hosted the leaders of ASEAN in the US capital. The members included — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
ASEAN represents the world’s fourth-largest market and the United States is ASEAN’s largest source of foreign direct investment. Their two-way trade amounted to over $360 billion in 2020, according to the US government. (ANI