Following the release of the Indo-Pacific Strategy in February 2022, the United States, in coordination with allies and partners, has taken historic strides to advance our common vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient.
The United States continues to demonstrate U.S. leadership and commitment to the Indo-Pacific, reinforcing the region’s capacity and resilience to address the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century and showing that we can build a better future together.
In the past year, the United States has worked closely with like-minded allies and partners to:
*Ensure that the region remains open and accessible by strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law, and a vibrant civil society through the Summit for Democracy Year of Action and implementation of the U.S Strategy on Countering Corruption;
*Build connections within and beyond the region and strengthen the regional architecture by launching the Partners in the Blue Pacific to advance coordination among likeminded partners in support of Pacific Islands’ priorities, elevating the U.S-ASEAN Relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and accelerating cooperation with allies and partners through our long-standing relationships as well as new flexible groupings and dialogues such as the Quad and the U.S.-EU Indo-Pacific Consultations;
*Drive regional prosperity through the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity with 13 regional partners, our APEC host year, the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade and the U.S.-Taiwan Technology Trade and Investment Collaboration (TTIC) framework, expanded economic-focused work in the Quad, and Just Energy Transition Partnerships with Indonesia and Vietnam;
*Bolster regional security by strengthening our network of security alliances and partnerships, increasing joint military exercises and capacity-building programmes for maritime security and cybersecurity and launching the Australia – United Kingdom – United States (AUKUS) partnership; and
*Advance regional resilience to 21st-century transnational threats by providing over 267 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to the region and building capacity to enhance regional response to future health emergencies as well as mobilising billions of dollars in clean energy, clean air, and climate resilience projects throughout the region.
Select achievements the Administration has made towards the ten core lines of effort identified in the Indo-Pacific Action Plan released alongside the U.S Indo-Pacific Strategy include the following:
Drive New Resources to the Indo-Pacific
The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to the Indo-Pacific by making significant new regional investments. In 2022 alone, the United States has provided over US$2 billion in foreign assistance to the region, expanded our diplomatic engagement, and coordinated with allies and partners to dedicate additional resourcing for Indo-Pacific priorities. Our resourcing efforts have supported critical advancements in economic development and capacity building, regional security, and climate resilience and adaptation. For example:
* Diplomatic Presence. The United States has significantly expanded our diplomatic engagement and presence in the region. This includes establishing a new embassy in Maldives and initiating discussions about our interest in opening two new embassies in the Pacific Islands: one in Tonga, one in Kiribati. The United States also announced the opening of its embassy in Honiara (Solomon Islands) in February.
*Economic Assistance. Key economic engagement initiatives include the launch of the U.S.-Indonesia Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact in November, dedicating US$698 million to support the country’s infrastructure and development goals; a commitment to triple economic assistance relating to the South Pacific Tuna Treaty, with US$600 million in economic assistance over 10 years; and a U.S.- Timor-Leste MCC Compact in July, which totals US$484 million to increase access to clean water and improve secondary education. In response to the crisis in Sri Lanka, the United States announced nearly $240 million in new U.S. assistance and loans to bolster Sri Lanka’s economy.
*Security Assistance. The United States has provided over US$620 million in FY 2022 security assistance to the region, and US$13.55 billion in FY 2022 Indo-Pacific foreign military sales. We continue to support peacekeeping rotations in the region and capacity-building efforts to combat transnational crime, corruption, and other shared challenges.
*Global Health and Climate Resilience. The United States has provided 267 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to the Indo-Pacific, dedicated US$520 million in FY 2022 health assistance, and US$165 million in FY 2022 assistance for climate adaptation, resilience, and clean energy projects throughout the region. The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation supports clean energy development throughout the Indo-Pacific, including through a US$500 million loan to support solar manufacturing in India.
*Regional Capacity Building in Coordination with Allies and Partners. The United States continues to amplify these assistance and capacity-building efforts in close partnership with its allies and partners, including through the launch of the Partners in the Blue Pacific, the continuation of the U.S.-EU Indo-Pacific Consultations and U.S.-UK high-level consultations on the Indo-Pacific.
Drive Indo-Pacific Economic Prosperity
Over the past year, the United States has deepened our economic engagement in the region and provided an affirmative model for economic cooperation through the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity; seized opportunities to harness innovation in the clean energy, digital, and technology sectors; and built regional capacity to fortify economies against vulnerabilities such as fragile supply chains and corruption. Key examples include:
*The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). In May 2022, President Biden launched IPEF with 13 regional partners, who represent 40 percent of global GDP. IPEF sets an affirmative vision for economic cooperation and will address major challenges of the 21st Century, including supply chain resilience, trade, setting the rules for the digital economy, a clean energy transition, and anticorruption.
*Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The United States is hosting APEC in 2023. Our theme “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All,” advances practical economic policies as the region emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and collectively seeks to address supply chain shocks, struggling health systems, food insecurity, and climate change.
* U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade. In June 2022, the United States and Taiwan established the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade to develop concrete ways to deepen the economic and trade relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, and promote innovation and inclusive growth for our workers and businesses.
*Clean Energy. To accelerate the region towards a cleaner energy future, the United States has launched Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETP) with Indonesia and Vietnam, and looks forward to new JETP partners. Additionally, the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has provided US$13.4 million to support 14 new climate-smart infrastructure activities across seven countries to further clean energy and decarbonisation goals, which is expected to unlock over US$24 billion in public and private financing. The United States is also engaging with Bhutan’s Department of Hydropower and Power Systems to provide technical assistance engagement in the hydrogen sector, and has launched a new clean energy partnership with Thailand.
The United States continues to promote regional security, deepen cooperation, and enhance interoperability to deter military aggression against our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific. In addition to our robust bilateral relationships, we have expanded cooperation through:
*The Australia – United Kingdom – United States (AUKUS) Partnership. Since the AUKUS announcement in September 2021, the trilateral partners have made significant progress on developing the optimal pathway for Australia to acquire a conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability, to be announced by early 2023.
* U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee: In January 2023, the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense met with their Japanese counterparts to discuss modernizing the U.S-Japan alliance in a new era of strategic competition, including optimizing force posture, and bolstering alliance roles, missions, and capabilities. The United States welcomed the convergence of U.S. and Japanese national security strategies to support a free and open Indo-Pacific, supported by Japan’s expansion of defense relationships with other allies and partners.
*Extended Deterrence Dialogues. The United States conducted extended deterrence dialogues with Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Australia in 2022 to strengthen alliance deterrence and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
*Through both force posture advancements and expanded multinational military operations in the Indo-Pacific, the United States is continuing to invest in regional security. This includes designating four new Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDCA) sites with the Philippines and collaborating with likeminded allies and partners on exercises such as Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) and Cobra Gold.
* Maritime Domain Awareness and Maritime Security. In May, alongside our Quad partners, we launched a new initiative, the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), which will provide technology and training to support enhanced, shared maritime domain awareness to promote stability and prosperity in our seas and oceans.
*Coast Guard Presence. The United States continues to support coast guard capacity building with partners including Indonesia and the Pacific Island Countries. In 2022, the United States Coast Guard provided over 26 training courses in disaster response, law enforcement, small boat operations, search and rescue, and engineering and maintenance.
Strengthen an Empowered and Unified ASEAN
The ASEAN-led regional architecture is central to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States continues to support the four pillars of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and in the past year has overseen an unprecedented expansion in U.S.-ASEAN relations, the first U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit held in Washington D.C. in May 2022, and the elevation of U.S.-ASEAN relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
*U.S.-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. At the 10th annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit in November 2022, President Biden and ASEAN leaders elevated U.S.-ASEAN relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the highest relationship tier granted by ASEAN. President Biden has expanded U.S-ASEAN relations by launching five new high-level dialogue processes on health, transportation, women’s empowerment, environment and climate, and energy.
*U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit. In May 2022, President Biden welcomed the ASEAN leaders to Washington for a historic first U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit. The United States announced over US$150 million in initiatives to support ASEAN programs in climate action, access to education, maritime cooperation, and promoting global health and health security.
*U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership (USASCP). In 2022, the USASCP launched the Smart Cities Innovation Fund to fund net-zero and low-carbon solutions to urban challenges, offering SU$1 million across six awards. USASCP also launched its Green Buildings Program, contributing to the United States’ expanded strategic partnership with Singapore.
*ASEAN Single Window (ASW): United States assistance to the ASW has saved private firms an estimated US$2.7 billion to date by streamlining trade to make it more transparent and secure, lowering costs for businesses and prices for consumers.
Support India’s Continued Rise and Regional Leadership
The United States supports India’s leadership in the region through multilateral and bilateral fora.
*Clean Energy and Climate. The United States is supporting India in its goal of installing 500 Gigawatts of non-fossil fuel energy by 2030. We cooperate on clean energy ventures principally through our Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP).
*Critical Infrastructure. We concluded a new Investment Incentive Agreement signed on June 15, 2022, for the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) signed a new Investment Incentive Agreement to invest in India’s critical infrastructure.
*Security Cooperation. The United States and India conducted Exercise TIGER TRIUMPH, a three-day joint humanitarian assistance exercise at India’s Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam. We also completed a Joint Combined Exchange Training between the United States 3rd Special Forces Group and India’s 4th Parachute Special Forces Battalion, and conducted Yudh Abhyas, a high-altitude U.S. and Indian army exercise in Uttarakhand state.
*Maritime Security. The United States participated in the Indian-led MILAN multilateral naval exercise, marking the first time the United States has joined India’s premier international exercise. We also held another successful iteration of the U.S.-India-Australia-Japan MALABAR naval exercise and welcomed the Indian Navy’s participation in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise.
Deliver on the Quad
The United States continues to work with our Quad partners to strengthen the Quad’s role as a premier regional grouping that delivers on issues that matter to the Indo-Pacific. In 2022, we demonstrated that the Quad is committed to bringing tangible benefits to the region through high-level meetings, signature initiatives, and regular activities. For example:
*Third Quad Leader-Level Meeting and Fifth Quad Foreign Ministers Meeting. In May 2022, the Quad Leaders convened in Tokyo, where they renewed their steadfast commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient. On the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in September 2022, the Secretary of State hosted the foreign ministers of Australia, India, and Japan, in New York City to deepen Quad multilateral cooperation.
*Leadership on High-Standards Infrastructure. Quad partners are leaders in building quality infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region. Since 2015, Quad partners have provided more than US$48 billion in official finance for infrastructure in the region.
*COVID-19 and Global Health Security. The Quad continues to lead global efforts for COVID-19 response and has to date pledged U$5.2 billion to the COVAX AMC and delivered over 267 million doses to the Indo-Pacific.
*Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP). In May, Quad partners launched Q-CHAMP, advancing activities on green shipping and ports, clean energy cooperation, strengthening clean energy supply chains, climate information services, and disaster risk reduction.
*Quad Fellowship. In December 2022, the Quad partnered with private sponsors to jointly announce the Quad Fellowship’s first cohort of 100 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate students – a first-of-its-kind scholarship designed to spur scientific and technological innovation.
*Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR). In May 2022, Quad Leaders launched the Quad Partnership on HADR in the Indo-Pacific, and the Foreign Ministers signed into operation the Guidelines for the Partnership in September. The Partnership will augment the Quad’s capacity and capability, interoperability, and operational synergy to undertake coordinated HADR operations to rapidly assist regional partners in the event of natural disasters and humanitarian crises in the Indo-Pacific region.
Expand U.S.-Japan-ROK Cooperation
In the past year, we have deepened our cooperation with key allies and partners, particularly Japan and the ROK, on regional security, development, and strategy. We continue to build trilateral coordination, guided by shared values, driven by innovation, and committed to shared prosperity and security.
*Trilateral U.S.-Japan-ROK Summit in Phnom Penh. In November 2022, President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida, and President Yoon met and released a statement reaffirming the trilateral partnership guided by shared values.
*Trilateral Security Cooperation. U.S., Japanese, and ROK defense ministers recommitted to trilateral security cooperation to address common security challenges in the Indo-Pacific in June 2022.
* NATO Summit. In June 2022, Japan and the ROK, alongside Australia and New Zealand, attended a leaders-level NATO Summit for the first time. President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida, and President Yoon met together for the first time on the sidelines of the NATO Summit to discuss enhancing trilateral cooperation to address the evolving threat posed by the DPRK’s unlawful weapons programmes.
Partner to Build Resilience in the Pacific Islands
The United States has demonstrated our deep and enduring partnership with the Pacific Island Countries and expanded our diplomatic, development, and people-to-people efforts in coordination with key partners.
*Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP). In June 2022, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States established the Partners in the Blue Pacific: an inclusive, informal mechanism that builds on partners’ longstanding commitment to the Pacific region and reaffirms their support for prosperity, resilience, and security in the region. The PBP held its first ministerial at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 77) in September 2022.
*U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit. In September 2022, President Biden hosted the first ever U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit in Washington, D.C., marking a new milestone in U.S.-Pacific cooperation. At the Summit, President Biden announced over US$810 million in funding for additional and expanded programmes for the Pacific Island Countries.
*U.S Strategy for the Pacific Islands. We have launched the first-ever U.S. Pacific Partnership Strategy as an addendum to the Indo-Pacific Strategy, aligned with the Pacific Islands Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
*Recognition of Cook Islands and Niue. The United States will recognize the Cook Islands and Niue as sovereign states, following appropriate consultations.
*Diplomatic Presence in the Pacific Islands. At the U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit, President Biden announced the designation of Ambassador Frankie Reed as the first-ever U.S. Envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
*Return and Expansion of the Peace Corps. Peace Corps volunteers returned to Fiji in 2022 and will return to Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu in 2023 to support communities on education, health, community economic development, and climate action.
*Expanding Early Warning Systems in Small Island Developing States. In support of the President’s Emergency Plan on Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), the United States is expanding the ability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific to improve forecasting and early warnings for severe weather and climate events by investing in their infrastructure and communication capabilities, as well as training their forecasters by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service.
Support Good Governance and Accountability
The United States has taken meaningful steps to build more resilient democracies, combat corruption, and support open societies in the Indo-Pacific. We continue to invest in democratic institutions, independent media, and civil society. In FY 2022, the United States has dedicated over US$245.9M in foreign assistance to support democracy, human rights, and governance in the Indo-Pacific.
*Summit for Democracy. As part of the Summit for Democracy Year of Action, the United States continues to work with partners to strengthen global democratic renewal. We are coordinating closely with the ROK, who will co-host the second Summit for Democracy on March 29-30, 2023, alongside the Governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Zambia.
*Protecting Human Rights and Democratic Resilience. Since the launch of the Administration’s IPS, the Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor has obligated approximately $51.7 million worth of programming in the Indo-Pacific region, focusing on democratic resilience, youth engagement, civic participation, and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
* Democracy and Human Rights Dialogues. The 26th U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue (HRD) was held in November 2022, covering a wide range of human and labor rights-related issues, including freedoms of expression and association; freedom of religion or belief; rule of law and legal reform; and rights of members of marginalised populations, including ethnic minority groups, women and girls, LGBTQI+ persons, and persons with disabilities. We also held the second annual U.S.-ROK Democratic Governance Consultations to coordinate on human rights and democracy promotion efforts at home and abroad. The United States and Japan held the first U.S.-Japan Strategic Dialogue on Democratic Resilience on February 9, 2023 in Tokyo.
* Supporting Marginalised Populations. At the November 2022, ILGA Asia Conference in Vietnam, Special Envoy for the advancement LGBTQI+, Jessica Stern met with civil society activists from China, India, Japan, the ROK, Thailand, Taiwan, and the Philippines to discuss evidence of human rights abuses and requests for U.S. assistance. In September 2022, the United States and ASEAN held the inaugural Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Ministerial to highlight gender mainstreaming efforts in the region, preventing and responding to Gender-Based Violence, Women’s Economic Empowerment, and advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
* South Asia Governance Fund. South Asia Governance Fund (SAGF) projects advance public sector transparency and accountability, strengthen local government institutions, and promote citizen participation to build more inclusive democratic institutions in South Asia. SAGF has created a network of 91 civil society organizations across South Asia with the skills to respond effectively to emerging governance challenges.
Support Open, Resilient, Secure, and Trustworthy Technologies
The United States has worked with partners across the region to promote secure and trustworthy digital infrastructure, improve cybersecurity, and expand support for use of emerging technology to combat disinformation, nuclear proliferation, cybercrime, and other 21st Century challenges.
*Cybersecurity Cooperation. In 2022, the United States and Singapore held the first-ever U.S.-Singapore Cyber Dialogue, and the 6th U.S.-ROK Cyber Dialogue, and the 5th U.S.-India Cyber Dialogue. In 2022, Embassy Hanoi, the Government of Vietnam, and the private sector stood up the first Joint Cyber Working Group in 2022. The United States and Taiwan have established a high-level cybersecurity working group to coordinate ongoing policy, law enforcement, and other cybersecurity cooperation.
*Cybersecurity Capacity Building. The U.S. Department of State has provided capacity building and technical assistance to Thailand’s National Cybersecurity Agency (NCSA), which includes further support for the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), assistance developing a Cyber Incident Response Plan, and support for the National Coordination Center. Through the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership, the United States works closely with the governments of Timor Leste, India, and the Philippines to build and maintain internet infrastructure and strengthen cybersecurity protections.
* Secure and Trusted Internet Connectivity. The United States continues to promote the provision of secure and trusted internet connectivity, including providing US$20 million in partnership with Australia and Japan to build a new undersea East Micronesia Cable to connect the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, and Kiribati,
SOURCE: US STATE DEPARTMENT/PACNEWS