Australia, Japan join US infrastructure push in Asia

  • The United States, Japan and Australia have formed a trilateral partnership for infrastructure investments in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The countries are aiming to attract private capital to projects that will span energy, transportation, tourism and technology infrastructure.

Australia and Japan have joined the United States in a push to invest in infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region, at a time when China is spending billions of dollars on its Belt and Road initiative across Asia.

In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy, an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) accompany May 3, 2017 in the western Pacific Ocean. 
Sean M. Castellano/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy, an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) accompany May 3, 2017 in the western Pacific Ocean. 

The move is part of a broader effort by the United States and its allies to reassert their influence in the Pacific amid fears that the region is increasingly susceptible to diplomatic pressure from Beijing.

"The United States, Japan and Australia have formed a trilateral partnership to mobilise investment in projects that drive economic growth, create opportunities, and foster a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific," Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation said in a statement.

The investments will include energy, transportation, tourism and technology infrastructure, with the governments aiming to attract private capital to projects. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced $113 million in new technology, energy and infrastructure initiatives in emerging Asia in a speech defining the economic aspect of President Donald Trump's "Indo-Pacific" strategy.

Australia has recently stepped up its engagement in the Pacific, allocating it the largest slice of its aid budget, while Japan has also been stepping up its diplomacy in the region, recently opening an embassy in Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila.