USAID’s Role in Advancing the U.S. Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

USAID’s Role in Advancing the U.S. Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific


Photo: Data courtesy Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC. Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC.

In November 2017, President Donald Trump laid out America’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, in which all nations are independent, strong and prosperous. Spanning from the U.S. west coast to India’s west coast, the Indo-Pacific region is home to the world’s fastest growing markets and offers unprecedented potential to create U.S. jobs while also lifting economies and communities in Asia and around the world.

The Vision for the Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific region’s continued growth—and the ability of U.S. companies to compete in the region freely and fairly—is hindered by challenges which include poor governance and a lack of infrastructure. On infrastructure, the financing shortfall is massive. According to the Asian Development Bank, the region is only meeting half of what is needed on an annual basis for infrastructure investment in order to maintain growth. Eager to secure quick financing, and enabled by weak regulatory environments, governments are disregarding transparency and entering into opaque, predatory lending schemes that consequently saddle their countries with unsustainable debt, in turn compromising their country’s sovereignty and progress toward self-reliance. For example, emboldened leaders are turning to authoritarian behavior that rolls back development gains, not to mention fundamental freedoms.

The United States recognizes that private investment is the only sustainable solution to the Indo-Pacific’s economic and infrastructure needs. According to the Asian Development Bank, fiscal reforms could help bridge about 40 percent of Asia’s infrastructure financing gap. But the remainder depends on the private sector, which would need to increase its funding by about 300 percent compared to current levels. But greater private sector engagement in the region first requires that governments create the conditions needed to unlock greater private investment, combat corruption and secure their nations’ autonomy from foreign coercion.

In support of the President’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. Government is advancing a whole-of-government approach focused in three areas: creating open and transparent markets to unlock private enterprise-led growth; advancing citizen-responsive governance that adheres to a rules-based order; and building a resilient network of security partners capable of addressing shared threats.

USAID’s Approach to Advancing the Vision

USAID plays a leading role in advancing this vision. Together with our U.S. Government partners, and in coordination with like-minded donor partners including India, Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, USAID supports new interagency initiatives and key bilateral and regional efforts focused in three primary areas:

Last updated: October 31, 2019

October 8, 2019

On September 27, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced $65 million in new assistance at a meeting with Pacific Island leaders in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly. This new assistance is in addition to $36.5 million announced at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum in August, as well as approximately $350 million that U.S. agencies invest annually in projects, assistance, and operations to build a more prosperous future for the people of the region. Under the Pacific Pledge of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, the U.S. Government is committing over $100 million in new U.S. assistance to the region. As part of the Pacific Pledge, USAID plans to provide over $63 million in new programs over the next year, more than doubling development assistance given over previous years.

October 8, 2019

On November 4, 2019, The U.S Trade and Development Agency welcomes businesses and governments to attend The Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF), which will occur during the East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. This event is co-organized with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Thai Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand (AmCham) and the U.S. ASEAN Business Council (USABC) with the support of the U.S. and the Royal Thai Governments.

September 18, 2019

USAID's development and humanitarian assistance is key to achieving prosperity and stability for our partner countries, as well as for the United States. The President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 for USAID’s development assistance in the East Asia-Pacific region is $409 million. This represents an increase of $168 million—or 70 percent—over the Request for FY 2019. In addition, USAID implements HIV/AIDS programming in the East Asia-Pacific region under the President’s Emergency for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that amounted to approximately $50 million in FY 2018. \. The President’s Budget Request supports USAID’s bilateral development programs in Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, The Philippines, the Pacific Islands, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, and regional programs managed out of our Bangkok-based Regional Development Mission for Asia. Of particular note is our request for the Pacific Islands, which reflects the priority this Administration places on this region as a key part of a free and open Indo-Pacific. The President’s Budget Request for the Pacific Islands of $20.5 million represents a 388 percent increase over the Request for FY 2019, and a 56 percent increase over the enacted level for FY 2018.

June 13, 2019

USAID’s development and humanitarian assistance is key to achieving prosperity and stability for our partner countries, as well as the United States. The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request for USAID’s development assistance in South Asia is $332.3 million, which represents a 73 percent increase over FY 2019’s request. This request supports USAID’s programs in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.