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US offers to finance infra projects

The United States on Wednesday offered to help finance some of the infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.

Visiting US assistant secretary for economic and business affairs Manisha Singh said the US government wanted the Philippines to know were many alternatives to fulfill the country’s infrastructure needs.

“We certainly hope that you will look to the US as a very positive alternative that is very much in your interest to explore. The [Trump] administration is committed to modernizing and streamlining our approach to development,” Singh said in a briefing hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

The US is banking on the passage of the Build Act currently pending in the US Congress to give financial muscle for its development financing program under the recently-launched Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.

The US launched early this year the Indo-Pacific Strategy, a commitment on its part to provide incentives to countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Philippines, to help them develop their infrastructure networks.

The legislation will consolidate overseas private investment corporations and other development finance arms of the US government into one larger international development finance corporation agency.

“We think that this is a way to mobilize and strengthen all the development finance aspects of our government,” Singh said.

The Build Act will also help increase the capital of Overseas Private Investment Corp. from $30 billion to $60 billion to enable it to expand its lending portfolio.

“President [Donald] Trump has said that we are committed to reforming our development finance institutions so they can better incentivize private sector investment in the economies and provide strong alternatives to stay directed in issues that might come with strings attached,” said Singh.

The US also plans to invest in new programs under the Asia AID program and help partners in the region to get the tools to import, produce, move and deploy their energy resources.

Washington is also looking at spending $130 million for the digital security and cyber connectivity program in the region.

The global initiative aims to promote access to open, reliable and secure internet. The partnership plans on advancing the successful private enterprise-driven, multi-stakeholder model of internet development and governance as well as build on the cap of partners to address cybersecurity by working with law enforcers.

Singh said the US would create a standing committee to identify infrastructure priorities for technical assistance and share information through the private sector and increase funding for capacity building program. 

These programs are intended to increase the US host countries’ capacities in project planning, economic governance and make it easier for business to invest in the region.

Recent estimates showed that the Indo-Pacific countries would need about $26 trillion to develop their infrastructure by the year 2030.

“And again we will turn to the private sector as entities to provide these needs. American companies are going to be the ones who are going to create sustainable conditions for your infrastructure needs going forward,” Singh said.

Topics: United States , ‘Build , Build , Build’ , Manisha Singh , American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines , Overseas Private Investment Corp.
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