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US looking to finance Asean projects, says OPIC chief

Apr 05. 2019
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By Phuwit Limviphuwat
The Nation

With growing Chinese influence in the Asean region through the Belt and Road Initiative, the United States is eyeing opportunities to finance development projects in Asean as part of their Indo Pacific Strategy.

To do so, the US Government will be looking to finance infrastructure, energy, digital development and telecommunication projects in Asean through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

OPIC offers debt financing, political risk insurance and private equity funds to firms that are looking to invest abroad. In 2018, OPIC set aside US$4 billion (Bt128 billion) to fund projects in the Asean region, from its total US$29 billion budget for exposure capital, said Eric Jones, Chief of Staff at OPIC earlier today during a press meeting at the US Embassy.

Despite some level of uncertainty arising from the Thai election, the US Government, along with US firms, look forward to working alongside with the new post-election government on US investments in the Kingdom, Jones stated.

The US welcomes infrastructure developments, including China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), said Joseph H. Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia.

However, there is cause for concern over China’s flagship international infrastructure development project, which has led to debt traps in various developing countries, he cautioned.

The US hopes that in going forward, further infrastructure investment resulting from the BRI would be fairer towards the host country, Felter said.

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