The United States Partners with Australia and Japan to Expand Reliable and Secure Digital Connectivity in Palau

30 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The United States, in partnership with the governments of Australia, Japan, and Palau, will finance the construction of an undersea fiber optic cable to the Republic of Palau valued at approximately $30 million. The project will connect to a new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation-financed undersea cable, the world’s longest, spanning from Singapore to the United States. The new spur cable—Palau’s second—will help ensure reliable, secure digital connectivity in Palau, and marks the first project to be delivered under the Trilateral Partnership for Infrastructure Investment in the Indo-Pacific between the United States, Australia and Japan.

Expanding Digital Connectivity in Palau

As a nation in free association with the United States, Palau has made substantial strides rebuilding and modernizing its telecommunications infrastructure with U.S. support. In December 2017, with a loan provided by the Asian Development Bank, Palau connected to the Southeast Asia-United States fiber optic submarine cable that also connects Guam to Indonesia and the Philippines, increasing available bandwidth by around seven times providing more than half of the population with internet connectivity.

However, Palau has no service connection back-up in times of fiber outages or service disruptions, an impediment to development. Connection to a second submarine cable will provide Palau with the redundancy it needs to realize the economic and development benefits of increased and strengthened digital connectivity.

The U.S. Government is providing $4.6 million for the project, including $3.8 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development and $800,000 from the U.S. government’s Transaction Advisory Fund.

In addition, the Republic of Palau is using $7 million in U.S. Government funding made available under the Palau Compact Review Agreement between the United States and Palau.

Belau Submarine Cable Corporation, a wholly owned Palauan state-owned enterprise, will contribute nearly $1 million and will lead the spur cable’s construction.

The Government of Australia will contribute approximately $10 million (USD) to the project, including $1.4 million already invested in the marine survey and branching unit, and a loan of approximately $9 million from the Australia Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific.

The Government of Japan is close to finalizing approval of their financing package through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance.

Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership: Commitment to the Pacific Region

The Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership was established by a memorandum of understanding between the United States, Japan, and Australia in November 2018. The Partnership furthers the three countries’ shared commitment to promote an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, prosperous, and secure, through support for infrastructure projects that adhere to international standards and principles. The Palau spur project is a practical demonstration of the partners’ commitment to meeting the infrastructure needs of the region and promoting secure, resilient, and trustworthy communications networks worldwide.

  • It furthers the United States’ Pacific Pledge, a commitment to partner with the Pacific Islands on their most pressing challenges, including on economic and environmental resilience, maritime security, and good governance.
    • Since the Pacific Pledge was announced last year, the United States has committed more than $300 million in assistance to the Pacific Islands.
  • The project highlights Australia’s strong commitment to the Pacific, as demonstrated by the Pacific Step-up, its AU$1.44 billion (US – $1 billion) of aid committed to the region in 2020-21, and its AU$2 billion (US – $1.4 billion) Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific.
    • As a Pacific country and the region’s largest donor, Australia has a strong interest in supporting the region’s prosperity, stability, sovereignty, and sustainability.
  • Japan is committed to expanding cooperation with the Pacific Island countries through “All-Japan” efforts in pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific, as demonstrated by its contribution of approximately 61 billion Yen (USD – 580 million) in development assistance for the Pacific Island Countries since the 8th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 8) in 2018. This project is another manifestation of that commitment.

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2020 Indo-Pacific Business Forum Promotes Free and Open Indo-Pacific

30 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The third annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum took place online and in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 28-29, 2020.  It showcased high-impact private-sector investment and government efforts to support market competition, job growth, and high-standard economic development for greater prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

The Forum promoted the United States’ vision of the Indo-Pacific as a free and open region composed of nations that are independent, strong, and prosperous.  Over 2,600 business and government leaders from the United States and across the Indo-Pacific region participated.

Utilizing an innovative combination of a virtual conference platform and limited in-person events in Hanoi to mitigate the health risks associated with travel and large assemblies, the 2020 Forum enabled safe and productive commercial and diplomatic engagement despite the pandemic.

Panel discussions highlighted key themes including:

  • Energy and Infrastructure
  • The Digital Economy
  • Market Connectivity
  • Health and Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • U.S.-Indo-Pacific Partnerships and Commercial Opportunities
  • Women’s Economic Empowerment.

The U.S. officials and business executives highlighted a range of commercial deals and new initiatives, including:

New U.S. Deals in Indo-Pacific

  • Since the first Indo-Pacific Business Forum in July 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with other U.S. government agencies, has facilitated $37.6 billion in FDI from the region into the United States supporting an estimated 50,000American jobs, and assisted 4,122 Indo-Pacific clients considering investments in the United States.  During the same period, the U.S. Department of Commerce assisted over 12,000 U.S. companies active in the region and supported an estimated 1 million American jobs.
  • The United States, Australia, Japan, and Palau announced on October 28 that they are moving forward with the financing for the construction of an undersea fiber optic cable to the Republic of Palau which will ensure reliable, secure digital connectivity in Palau. The project, valued at approximately $30 million, will connect to a new undersea cable financed by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. That cable will be the world’s longest, spanning from Singapore to the United States. This marks the first project delivered under the Trilateral Partnership for Infrastructure Investment in the Indo-Pacific between the United States, Australia, and Japan. U.S. Government financial support for the cable connection project comes from U.S. Department of the Interior Compact Funding, USAID, and the U.S. government’s Transaction Advisory Fund.
  • U.S. firm AES Corporation and PetroVietnam Gas aim to go forward with the proposed $2.8 billion Son My LNG import terminal and power plant. The agreement will open the door to billions of dollars of annual U.S. LNG exports to Vietnam.
  • India has received $20 billion of foreign investment this year from U.S. companies including Google and Amazon. In July, Google pledged to commit $10 billion in India to accelerate adoption of digital services in the key overseas market.  In January, Amazon announced a $1 billion investment in digitizing small and medium businesses, allowing them to sell and operate online.
  • USTDA announced its growing commitment to smart cities in India by funding a feasibility study in support of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ National Urban Innovation Stack – a cutting-edge smart city tool to drive innovation, data-driven governance and capacity building across more than 100 Indian smart cities.
  • USTDA also announced grant funding for technical assistance to fundamentally transform the way Ho Chi Minh City manages its daily operations through advanced data analytics.
  • USAID in Vietnam announced the launch of the Vietnam Low Emission Energy Program II (V-LEEP II). This five-year, $36 million program will accelerate Vietnam’s transition to a clean, secure, and market-driven energy system.
  • Mastercard established Mastercard Academy 2.0, a flagship program that will provide essential digital knowledge and skills to 100,000 Indonesians by 2023 – including schoolchildren, young adults, entrepreneurs and mid-career professionals – to help them thrive and actively participate in Indonesia’s digital transformation.
  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Thailand Ministry of Finance highlighted the Framework to Strengthen Infrastructure Finance and Market Building Cooperation. This cooperative initiative is designed to support infrastructure development through market-oriented, private sector investment.

New U.S. and Partner Efforts to Advance a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

  • In September 2020, the United States, the five Mekong countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam – and the ASEAN Secretariat launched the Mekong-U.S. Partnership to expand and deepen our relationship and promote the stability, peace, prosperity, and sustainable development of the Mekong sub-region. The Partnership builds on 11 years of collaboration under the Lower Mekong Initiative to strengthen cooperation and programming, including in the areas of economic connectivity, human capital development, transboundary water and natural resources management, and non-traditional security.
  • Since Asia EDGE’s launch in July 2018, the U.S. government has reported success stories for U.S. energy firms in the Indo-Pacific totaling approximately $29.5 billion, which have supported more than 142,000 U.S. jobs. Asia EDGE represents an initiative of a group of 10 USG agencies that is advocating for approximately $185 billion in energy deals and advancing additional energy projects in the Indo-Pacific region totaling approximately $57 billion. Asia EDGE has allocated $140 million for technical assistance programming in Indo-Pacific markets to improve those markets’ regulatory environments and procurement processes, develop national and regional energy markets, deploy private capital, and modernize their energy infrastructure.
  • The Infrastructure Transaction and Assistance Network (ITAN) includes representatives from 14 U.S. government agencies. ITAN supported dozens of projects with a market value of over $175 billion and potential export content upwards of $23 billion during the initiative’s first year in operation. U.S. government agencies directed $587 million in tools and resources to support priority transactions and capacity building efforts in partner countries. ITAN projects span the Indo-Pacific, with several projects in Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
  • The Blue Dot Network, announced at the 2019 Indo-Pacific Business Forum, will help close the gap in the development of quality infrastructure by certifying and advancing projects that uphold international principles and standards. With partners Japan and Australia, the United States is developing this initiative to promote infrastructure investment that is open and inclusive, transparent, economically viable, and financially, environmentally and socially sustainable.
  • The Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP), a whole-of-U.S. government initiative with 10 agencies, promotes expanded connectivity and an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable internet. In the past year, the DCCP has supported 15 countries in the Indo-Pacific region with approximately $50 million for capacity building to improve digital connectivity, strengthen the private sector’s digital capacity, assist in the design, development, and implementation of information and communications technology policies and regulations.
  • The U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership is launching new programs on Health in Cities, resource recovery and reuse, and sustainable transportation policies and practices. The Partnership to date has invested in over 20 projects to support the ASEAN Smart Cities Network.  Coordination with the private sector is an integral part of the Partnership.
  • The United States and the Republic of Fiji signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on October 15 that will create a platform on which to expand and deepen bilateral trade and investment ties between the two countries.
  • The United States and Bangladesh signed an Open Skies agreement on September 30 to establish a modern, market-driven civil aviation relationship consistent with U.S. Open Skies international aviation policy. It includes unrestricted capacity and frequency of services, open route rights, a liberal charter regime, and open code-sharing opportunities.
  • Cambodia has passed a new law which recognizes U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) as providing sufficient quality and safety assurances, enabling new vehicles that adhere to these standards to be imported and sold in Cambodia. With the passage of this law, Cambodia becomes the first country in ASEAN to explicitly recognize and accept U.S. FMVSS.
  • The inaugural United States-Thailand Energy Policy Dialogue on October 27 brought together high-level officials from the U.S. and Thai governments to chart a path forward for collaboration on energy related issues. Participants discussed opportunities in the oil, gas, and power sectors, including those related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as opportunities for mobilizing commercial investment.
  • A new collaboration between the U.S. EXIM Bank and the USA Healthcare Alliance will provide greater access to high-quality U.S. healthcare goods and services throughout the Indo-Pacific region, which can aid in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Over the last year, the Department of the Treasury has initiated seven Indo-Pacific bilateral framework agreements with Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam designed to catalyze private sector financing throughout the region. The inaugural meetings of the U.S.-Indonesia and U.S.-Taiwan working groups were held on October 5 and October 27, respectively, and drew more than 100 officials to discuss quality infrastructure investment across the region.
  • USTDA announced new funding to support the Southeast Asia Aviation Cooperation Program (SEA ACP) a public-private partnership combining the expertise of five U.S. government agencies and more than 30 U.S. companies to support technical, policy, and commercial cooperation in civil aviation in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. USTDA will support a series of reverse trade missions to the United States that will familiarize the region’s aviation leaders with U.S. policies, technologies, and best practices to promote safety and security, enhance aviation and airport operations, and foster new partnerships with U.S. industry.
  • The FAA and USTDA will co-host an inaugural SEA ACP event – an Airport Safety Webinar taking place November 17-18, 2020.  The workshop will bring together U.S. companies and Southeast Asian leaders to discuss current approaches and practices in both the region and the United States on airport safety during construction and aircraft rescue and firefighting operations.  USTDA will also partner with the FAA to train Vietnamese airport operators and aviation representatives on the latest technical, operational and managerial tools that will enhance airport operations across Vietnam.
  • The FAA also announced a virtual Performance Based Communications and Surveillance (PBCS) Workshop under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), for APEC economies in February 2021 to enhance awareness of PBCS as well as share best practices for its implementation.
  • In collaboration with the U.S.-India Aviation Cooperation Program, USTDA will fund an innovative executive development training program for India’s next generation of aviation leaders.
  • The United States and Japan reaffirmed their shared commitment to establishing a secure, open, and competitive energy market and strengthening energy security in the Indo-Pacific region through the Japan-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP). With greater focus on joint commercial engagement, JUSEP is making concrete progress in facilitating and creating new business opportunities for joint U.S. and Japanese energy projects in the Indo-Pacific region, including in Hai Phong, Vietnam.  The two countries are also strengthening their tools for commercial engagement, including through a new Memorandum of Cooperation to strengthen energy and infrastructure finance and market building cooperation, which was signed in February 2020 between the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Ministry of Finance (MOF).
  • USAID announced an MOU with a consortium of U.S. retail, apparel, and footwear companies and industry associations to help supply chain workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The participating companies and industry associations are: Carter’s Inc., Gap Inc., Global Brands Group, Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Tapestry, Target, VF Corporation, Walmart, American Apparel and Footwear Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and the U.S. Fashion Industry Association.
  • USAID announced new activities that will improve access to affordable, secure, reliable, and sustainable energy through the advancement of expanded, transparent, and efficient regional energy markets, in collaboration with various public and private sector partners from throughout the region and the United States, including U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories and the United States Energy Association.

An All-of-America Commitment to a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

As all nations strive to recover from the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of economic cooperation and partnership is paramount.  As the world’s largest economy and most generous humanitarian assistance donor, the United States is leading the way in that recovery effort, both at home and abroad.

The 2020 Indo-Pacific Business Forum enabled business executives and government leaders to forge connections, learn about industry, regulatory, and policy trends, and explore new opportunities for contributing to regional and global economic recovery.

Three U.S. Cabinet officials spoke at the 2020 Indo-Pacific Business Forum:

Fifteen U.S. Ambassadors and Chiefs of Mission from across the Indo-Pacific region participated, along with Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Chairman Kimberly Reed and senior State Department officials including Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources Frank Fannon, and Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues Kelley E. Currie.

Other U.S. government agencies were represented by senior officials including:

  • U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) Chief Operating Officer and Head of Agency Todd Abrajano
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Steve Dickson
  • Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick
  • Department of the Treasury Assistant Secretary for International Markets Mitchell Silk
  • Department of Commerce Deputy Under Secretary Joe Semsar

Distinguished speakers from the private sector included executives from:

  • Google
  • Ford Motors
  • AT&T
  • AES
  • Mastercard
  • VISA
  • Citi
  • GE
  • Honeywell
  • Jacobs Engineering
  • Excelerate Energy
  • Medtronic
  • Cheniere
  • Keysight Technologies
  • Sanford Health
  • The U.S. Grains Council
  • The Aerospace Industries Association

The Forum was sponsored by USTDA and co-hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the US-ASEAN Business Council, and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

For additional information on the 2020 Indo Pacific Business Forum please visit: https://www.indopacificbusinessforum.com/

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Joint Statement on the Israel-Lebanon Maritime Talks

29 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by the Government of the United States and the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon.

Begin text:

Building on progress from their October 14 meeting, on October 28 and 29 representatives from the governments of Israel and Lebanon held productive talks mediated by the United States and hosted by ​the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL). The United States and UNSCOL remain hopeful that these negotiations will lead to a long-awaited resolution.  The parties committed to continue negotiations next month.

End text.

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United States – Iceland Memorandum for Economic Cooperation

29 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following Memorandum for Economic Cooperation was released by the Governments of the United States of America and Iceland at the conclusion of the second United States-Iceland Economic Partnership Dialogue, held October 27, 2020.

Begin text:

Iceland and the United States of America held their second Bilateral Economic Partnership Dialogue virtually on October 27, 2020. The two countries focused on their shared commitment to further build upon the existing strong bilateral economic ties and mutual strategic cooperation. They also decided to jointly address global challenges of mutual concern. In this spirit, the two countries adopt this Memorandum for Economic Cooperation in pursuit of closer economic and strategic ties.

I. Introduction

The United States and Iceland share deep historic ties, common values, and a strong economic relationship. The United States is proud to be the first country to recognize Icelandic independence in 1944.

Building on our bilateral trade and investment volumes of over $1 billion, we intend to work together to further expand commerce and investment between our countries.

Through increased commercial ties and economic opportunities, we aim to amplify innovation and productivity leading to job creation in both nations.

In an effort to strengthen our economies fighting to recover from a global pandemic, our goal is to find joint collaboration opportunities that include everyone in the benefits of economic growth.

We recognize the importance of an open and transparent policy framework which encourages cross-border investment and enables fair competition.

As founding members of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we are committed to member-driven missions to strengthen cooperation for international organizations.

II. Modernizing and Protecting Critical Infrastructure

A world increasingly connected through technology, travel, and trade, needs modern infrastructure to create economic opportunity.

We recognize the importance of mitigating risks to global supply chains and the importance of protecting critical infrastructure, particularly cyber communications networks. We, therefore, emphasize the necessity of a 5G ecosystem based on free and fair competition, transparency, and the rule of law.

We recognize the importance of using effective tools to address potential national security risks arising from cross-border investment, while not deterring benign foreign investment that will be critical for returning to strong economic growth.

III. Trade Relations

The long-standing economic relationship between the United States and Iceland is strong and has been steadily growing in past years. Despite the strong bilateral relations, the benefit of even greater economic cooperation, increased trade and investment, and elimination of trade barriers, will enhance economic growth and encourage increased productivity for both countries. Trade in services and investment is increasing and plays an important role in our trade relations. We intend to continue to explore ways to enhance cooperation on trade and investment.

IV. Travel, Tourism and Exchanges

We intend to promote travel and tourism between our two nations highlighting cultural ties. We further propose to encourage academic, student, professional, and culture exchanges resulting in a better shared understanding between our populations.

V. Energy Diversification

Energy security and diversification of energy sources underpin the national security and economies of our two countries. Iceland’s global leadership on cutting-edge geothermal technologies, paired with the United States’ innovation in energy efficiency and world class service sector, present unique opportunities for cooperation in the energy sector. We intend to cooperate on sustainable, clean and efficient energy technologies, such as hydropower and geothermal.

VI. Scientific and Technology Cooperation

We are committed to advancing bilateral cooperation in scientific research and higher education partnerships by expanding opportunities for scientists’ collaborations in priority areas, including marine environment and natural resource protection, health, renewable energy and emerging technologies, including in scientific computing. Both sides also anticipate safeguarding sensitive research in science and technology, highlighting the importance of the inclusion of the private sector, scientific institutions, universities and think tanks in further exploring ways to cooperate in these fields with the aim of encouraging investments and innovation in new technology.

VII. Women’s Economic Empowerment

Both countries have made the empowerment of women in the economy a high priority. We expect to continue our cooperation on promoting women’s economic empowerment, sharing best practices and highlighting national platforms promoting entrepreneurship and economic opportunities for women, including in our respective foreign policies.

VIII. Arctic Cooperation

As member states of the Arctic Council, we seek to maintain the Arctic as a region of peace, stability and cooperation. Both countries intend to work together within the Arctic Council to enhance sustainable development, environmental protection, and the well-being and security of the people living in the region.

Our two countries aim to advance our bilateral cooperation in the Arctic, including in pursuing new opportunities for scientific collaboration, trade and commerce.

IX. Conclusion

The United State and Iceland are committed to continuing cooperation in all the above and anticipate that the annual Economic Dialogue will be a forum in which these and other issues of mutual interest will be taken forward and addressed.

End text.

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Inaugural United States-Thailand Energy Policy Dialogue Joint Press Statement

28 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The following text was released by the Governments of the United States and Thailand:

Begin text:

Representatives from the United States and Thailand convened for the inaugural United States-Thailand Energy Policy Dialogue in a virtual format on October 27.  Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis R. Fannon and Thai Ministry of Energy Permanent Secretary Kulit Sombatsiri led the delegations.

The discussion reinforced the role of energy cooperation in strengthening the U.S.-Thai partnership and focused on growing energy markets, developing renewable energy opportunities, and expanding power sector integration in ASEAN and the Mekong region.  The two countries recognized the importance of ongoing bilateral cooperation, with an emphasis on promoting commercial engagement.  In addition, both delegations reviewed the progress of current energy projects in Thailand and established priorities for future cooperation and technical support.

The United States and Thailand discussed plans to hold a second, in-person, dialogue in Thailand with business leaders once travel conditions allow, and to expand U.S.-Thai cooperation in clean energy supply chains, as well as in the oil and gas, alternative energy, energy efficiency, and power generation sectors.

End text.

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Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa

28 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met today with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa  in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Secretary Pompeo reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to a strong, sovereign Sri Lanka and to advancing our shared interests in a free and open Indo-Pacific region.  Secretary Pompeo and President Rajapaksa discussed post-pandemic economic recovery and development and noted the benefits of long-term U.S. private sector trade and investment, which offers sustainable, transparent, and high-quality partnership.  The Secretary also stressed the importance of strengthening democratic governance, human rights protections, and of fundamental freedoms to ensure long-term stability and prosperity.  The two leaders agreed to remain in contact on issues of mutual concern, including cooperation on counterterrorism, and the post-pandemic economic recovery.

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Travels to Indonesia to Underscore Shared Vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region

28 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

 “The strategic partnership the United States and Indonesia have forged remains more important than ever…we will continue to strengthen the bonds that our two countries enjoy based on our shared democratic values, our deep economic ties, and our commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”  — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, August 14, 2020

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will travel to Jakarta, Indonesia, from October 28-29, 2020, where he will meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.  The Secretary will also deliver remarks and meet with representatives of U.S. businesses to strengthen bilateral trade and investment ties.

STRENGTHENING THE U.S.-INDONESIA STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

  • The United States and Indonesia share a deep and enduring Strategic Partnership based on our fundamental belief in democracy and free markets. As the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia is well-positioned – both regionally and globally – to serve as an example for others of religious tolerance, plurality, and inclusion.
  • Since the Secretary’s last visit in August 2018, we have further deepened our bilateral ties. Strengthening our Strategic Partnership with Indonesia is a U.S. foreign policy priority, given Indonesia’s status as the world’s third-largest democracy and its historic leadership role in ASEAN. The United States believes respect for human rights is critical for democratic governance, and that democracies such as Indonesia are stronger when they uphold the spirit and the letter of their domestic and international obligations for all their citizens.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged both our nations. The United States helped Indonesians by providing $11 million of COVID-related assistance and donating 1,000 ventilators.  We look forward to further cooperation in fighting the pandemic and strengthening our economies post-COVID.

THE UNITED STATES AND INDONESIA SHARE A VISION OF A FREE AND OPEN INDO-PACIFIC REGION

  • The United States and Indonesia share a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, including a commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight. Indonesia is a leader within ASEAN and an anchor of the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.  The United States remains deeply engaged in the Indo-Pacific, and we and our partners believe the best way to prevent conflict is to reinforce our shared values.
  • Security cooperation is a key pillar of our strategic partnership. The United States is proud to be Indonesia’s largest defense partner in terms of the number of annual exercises and events in which we participate together.  Our cooperation in counterterrorism and in countering violent extremism is also an important component of our joint efforts to build a safer world.  We respect Indonesia’s strong efforts to safeguard its maritime rights and stand up to PRC aggression in the South China Sea, including in its Exclusive Economic Zone around the Natuna Islands.

GROWING BILATERAL TRADE AND INVESTMENT TIES WILL HELP OUR ECONOMIES THRIVE

  • The United States remains deeply committed to Indonesia’s prosperity. We are invested in upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific in which all nations, including Indonesia, are able to pursue economic growth consistent with international law and principles of fair competition.  Our bilateral trade and investment relationship presents myriad opportunities to create more jobs and economic growth for all of our citizens.
  • We are deploying new and innovative tools to bolster the engagement of U.S. businesses in Indonesia for the benefit of both countries. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation is catalyzing U.S. private sector investment in Indonesia’s growing infrastructure, digital, and energy sectors, and the recent signing of a bilateral Infrastructure Finance agreement will attract private sector capital to meet Indonesia’s estimated $1.5 trillion infrastructure gap.
  • S. companies are major investors in Indonesia’s economy, contributing to sustainable growth across diverse sectors. In October 2020, Kimberly-Clark executed its $1.2 billion acquisition of Softex Indonesia with a strategy to fuel the company’s growth through brand building and innovation.  Earlier this year, Pennsylvania-based Air Products announced a $2 billion investment to create a world-class production facility in Kalimantan for methanol, a chemical feedstock.

SHARED COMMITMENT TO INCREASE OUR PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE TIES  

  • We recently celebrated 70 years of our bilateral relationship and continue to expand our people-to-people ties. Since 1952, more than 3,000 Indonesians and 1,200 Americans have received Fulbright scholarships for exchange study and teaching.
  • Almost 40,000 Indonesians are members of the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI), the largest number from any ASEAN country. Each year, U.S. Embassy Jakarta sends as many as 200 emerging Indonesian leaders to the United States to participate in more than a dozen youth exchange programs, and approximately 9,000 Indonesians undertake study in the United States.  The United States continues to work with Indonesia to increase the number of exchange students in both of our countries.

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Secretary Pompeo Travels to Maldives to Announce New U.S. Presence in Key Indo-Pacific Nation

28 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

 “The United States and Maldives enjoy a strong and growing relationship.  We are bound by shared democratic values and our mutual interest in a free, open, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region that ensures sovereignty and prosperity for all.”

— U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, July 24, 2020

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo traveled to Malé, Maldives, on October 28, 2020, where he announced plans to open a U.S. Embassy in Malé and met with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Foreign Minister Abdulla Shaheed.  He also highlighted the United States’ support for Maldives’ democracy and sovereignty.

THE UNITED STATES AND MALDIVES: A RAPIDLY GROWING RELATIONSHIP

  • The United States and Maldives share common goals for an independent and prosperous Maldives and a free and open Indo-Pacific.
  • The United States plans to open a new American Embassy in Malé, Maldives. We welcome this new embassy as a milestone in our relationship and a symbol of our future close collaboration.
  • In 2018, 90 percent of eligible Maldivian voters turned out to vote, with a strong majority electing the reform-minded President Solih. Since President Solih’s accession to office, Maldives has bolstered democratic institutions and advanced counterterrorism efforts.
  • The United States supports Maldives’ ongoing democratic initiatives, economic development, and social and environmental ambitions, and welcomes further progress in protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Maldivian people.

AN EMERGING PARTNERSHIP ON MARITIME SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM

  • In September 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense and Maldives Ministry of Defense established a framework to deepen our security relationship, setting forth both countries’ intent to increase engagement in support of peace and security in the Indian Ocean, signifying advancement in our defense partnership.
  • We commend Maldives for its tremendous advances in enhancing maritime security and countering terrorism. We are proud to partner on these critical regional security issues and have conducted 40 bilateral exercises with Maldives since 2012, a number we hope to increase through our new joint security framework. We envision benefits to both our countries and increased peace and security in the Indian Ocean region resulting from our strengthened security partnership.
  • Maldives has extended strong support to American efforts to combat terrorism and terrorist financing.
  • In July 2019, President Solih announced plans to repatriate Maldivian foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). In October 2019, the country strengthened existing anti-terrorism legislation with an amendment that required establishment of a rehabilitation and reintegration center for returning FTFs. The government also designated 17 terrorist organizations in September 2019.

STRONG COOPERATION ON COVID-19

  • The United States has been a steadfast partner to Maldives in combatting COVID-19.
  • The United States is providing nearly $3 million to Maldives in COVID-19-related support.
  • The United States strongly supports the Paris Club/G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and its recent extension, which, subject to certain conditions, would allow Maldives to defer its debt payments to the United States and other creditors through June 2021.
  • In addition to funds, the United States has delivered technical expertise and training, which are key to responding to the pandemic.
  • In September, the U.S. Agency for International Development donated 60 new ventilators to Maldives.

GROWING ECONOMIC TIES

  • Maldives signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States in October 2009 and the United States-Maldives Council on Trade and Investment held its most recent meeting in June 2019. S. and Maldivian trade representatives discussed the positive trends in our bilateral trade, noting a nearly 30 percent increase to $63 million in the 2013-2018 time period.
  • Maldives has been designated as a beneficiary country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, under which a range of products are eligible for duty-free entry to the United States.  The GSP program provides an incentive for investors to produce in Maldives.

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Counselor Brechbühl’s Travel to Nigeria

27 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:‎

Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbühl visited Abuja, Nigeria from October 19 to October 23.  Counselor Brechbühl’s delegation included Assistant Secretary Robert Destro from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and Assistant Secretary Dr. Denise Natali from the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.  The delegation travelled to Nigeria to raise U.S. government concerns about ongoing violence in Nigeria, human rights, and religious freedom, and to enhance U.S.-Nigerian cooperation in preventing atrocities.  The delegation met with religious leaders, civil society figures, senior police officials, and government leaders, including the Vice President of Nigeria and the Foreign Minister, to identify ways we can work together to combat violence, promote security, and bolster economic recovery.

The delegation’s visit came during a tumultuous time for Nigeria with ongoing protests over police brutality and corruption.  In meetings with the government, Counselor Brechbühl expressed deep concern and condemned the use of excessive force by the military when it fired on unarmed protestors in Lagos on October 20.  He offered our deepest condolences to the victims of those shootings and their families.  The Counselor reiterated that those responsible should be held accountable under the law and emphasized that the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are human rights and core democratic principles.

In his meetings, Counselor Brechbühl reinforced our strong collaboration on common goals and shared U.S. concerns about ongoing violence in Northern Nigeria.  The delegation heard a wide range of perspectives regarding the drivers of, and solutions to, that violence and ways in which the United States can support those efforts.

As Nigeria starts its 60th year of independence, the visit reaffirmed the importance of our bilateral relationship.  The delegation emphasized the value of U.S. and Nigerian collaboration to improve security cooperation and strengthen economic partnership to foster mutual prosperity.

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Under Secretary Hale’s Call with Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi

27 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale spoke today with Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to reaffirm American support for democratic reforms and humanitarian relief efforts in Burma and a credible, transparent, and inclusive national election in November. Under Secretary Hale pressed the Burmese government to end conflict across the country and secure the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya and other refugees and internally displaced persons.

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