How the U.S. Can Promote a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region

By siliconindia   |   Tuesday, 13 February 2024, 21:24 IST
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How the U.S. Can Promote a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region

US leadership in the Indo-Pacific region bears direct benefits, fostering stronger economic connections between American enterprises and international markets, generating employment opportunities, and enhancing readiness for prospective pandemics.

The United States, as an Indo-Pacific nation, remains steadfast in its dedication to advancing a collective vision for an open, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region. This region, home to over half of the world's population and contributing to 60 percent of global GDP and two-thirds of economic growth, holds immense significance on the global stage. In 2022, trade between the US and the Indo-Pacific surpassed $2 trillion, accompanied by substantial foreign direct investment totaling $956 billion.

Through unwavering leadership and commitment, the US actively showcases its engagement in the Indo-Pacific, underscoring the region's capability to address global challenges and opportunities. At the forefront of these endeavors, the Department of State spearheads efforts to revitalize partnerships and alliances, foster coalitions, and participate actively in multilateral institutions.

Advancing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

The United States Department of State is actively committed to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region, focusing on advocating for open societies, independent political decision-making, and transparent governance based on established rules. Central to these endeavors are initiatives aimed at advancing human rights and democratic principles worldwide, bolstering democratic processes in Burma, countering threats posed by foreign information manipulation and interference, and addressing the humanitarian crisis involving the Rohingya population.

Building Connections Within and Beyond the Region

Over the preceding two years, the United States has significantly bolstered its diplomatic ties with allies and partners to an unprecedented extent. Noteworthy advancements include the consolidation of a robust and cohesive ASEAN, deepening trilateral cooperation among the US, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, and effective collaboration within the Quad framework. Furthermore, the US has strategically expanded its diplomatic presence in the Indo-Pacific, exemplified by establishing embassies in the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Maldives, with ongoing discussions regarding the potential opening of an embassy in Kiribati.

Moreover, the US has formally acknowledged the sovereignty and independence of the Cook Islands and Niue, establishing diplomatic relations with both nations. In June 2022, the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) formation by Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States underscored a collective commitment to advancing Pacific priorities, encompassing prosperity, resilience, and security.

Further strides have been made through enhanced trilateral cooperation with Japan and the Philippines, the elevation of bilateral relations with Vietnam and Indonesia to Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships, and steadfast support for India's regional leadership across multilateral and bilateral platforms. Concurrently, the United States is expanding its engagement in the Indian Ocean Region, fostering connectivity between European and Atlantic allies with the Indo-Pacific, and prioritizing investments in people-to-people linkages.

Driving Regional Prosperity

The United States strategically directs investments toward the Indo-Pacific region to foster innovation, bolster economic competitiveness, and create jobs. Over the preceding two years, the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have allocated approximately $4 billion in foreign assistance to the region, coinciding with nearly doubling foreign direct investment over the past decade. Notably, companies within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region have unveiled almost $200 billion in assets within the United States since the inception of the current administration.

Bolstering Regional Stability

The United States is actively advancing regional security objectives through a multifaceted approach to deepening cooperation, bolstering allied investments, and fostering interoperability. This commitment is exemplified through various initiatives, including robust support for the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) Security Partnership, efforts to fortify security alliances, expand presence within the Indo-Pacific region, and enhance maritime domain awareness and security.

Furthermore, the US has solidified its commitment to regional security by entering into defense cooperation agreements with Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, establishing mechanisms for real-time information sharing concerning DPRK missile threats, and engaging in collaborative exercises with like-minded allies.

In cybersecurity, the US is actively enhancing cooperation and capacity-building efforts. This is exemplified through initiatives such as the Pacific Cyber Capacity and Coordination Conference and cyber dialogues with ASEAN, Japan, Korea, and India. Additionally, the United States remains steadfast in its support for Taiwan's self-defense capabilities.

Financial commitments further underscore the United States' dedication to regional security. Notably, investments totaling $393 million in foreign military financing and over $34 million in International Military Education and Training within the Indo-Pacific region aim to fortify maritime security and promote military professionalization. Additionally, these investments seek to strengthen humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.

Advancing Resilience to 21st Century Transnational Threats

The United States has been actively collaborating with partners across the Indo-Pacific region to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, expedite the transition to clean energy sources and bolster investments in global health security. Specifically, the U.S. has committed to supporting climate adaptation and resilience efforts in the Pacific Islands and Maldives, launching initiatives focused on humanitarian warehousing and enhancing research capabilities in oceanography and fisheries.

Moreover, the US is harnessing the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework Clean Economy Agreement and the Catalytic Capital Fund to facilitate the financing of projects adhering to high standards. In addition, the U.S. is prioritizing the promotion of climate ambition, clean energy adoption, and boosting energy security through collaborations such as the Just Energy Transition Partnerships and Civil-Nuclear Cooperation Agreements, as well as initiatives aimed at fostering regional energy integration.