The Governments of the United States and Japan co-hosted the fifth Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) in a hybrid format on January 12, 2023, in Tokyo, Japan. The IPBF advances the United States’ vision for a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.
As the premier U.S. government-sponsored commercial diplomacy event for the region, the IPBF facilitates business, government, and civil society participants in building connections and partnerships, exchanging best practices, and stimulating innovative thinking on the challenges and opportunities facing the region. It showcases high-impact government and private sector activities to support job growth and high-standard economic development for greater prosperity and inclusion in the Indo-Pacific region.
Our Commitment to Indo-Pacific Economic Recovery and Sustainable and Inclusive Growth
The importance of economic and commercial cooperation and partnership in the Indo-Pacific is paramount. The caliber of the United States leadership in the 2023 IPBF is a reflection of the importance the United States places on this event. Four U.S. Cabinet officials gave recorded remarks at the Forum.
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken
- Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo
- Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
- S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai
Under the theme of “inclusive and sustainable growth,” the 2023 IPBF provided the opportunity to discuss shared ambitions for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), as well as the respective priorities for the United States’ APEC host year and Japan’s G7 presidency. The Forum also provided a chance to highlight continued U.S. engagement with partners on economic issues ranging from infrastructure investment to climate change to critical technologies through mechanisms like the Indo-Pacific Quad with our regional partners Australia, India, and Japan. More than 140 in-person and 1000 virtual business and government leaders from the United States, Japan, economies of the Indo-Pacific region, and countries around the world participated.
We were pleased to welcome the U.S. and Japanese IPEF negotiators to the Forum to discuss the latest updates and future expectations for the Framework. IPEF was launched in May 2022 by the United States in partnership with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. This framework will offer tangible benefits that fuel economic activity and investment, promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and benefit workers and consumers across the region.
As part of our enduring commitment to the region and broad-based economic growth, the United States is also excited to build on the success of the IPBF during our service as APEC host in 2023. We aim to take full advantage of our APEC host year to collaborate with like-minded partners to strengthen the international economic system and showcase the importance of engagement with the APEC region in driving American prosperity. Under the U.S. host year theme of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All,” we look forward to advancing a practical economic policy agenda across a wide range of domains that benefits workers, businesses, and families in the United States and around the region.
New Commercial Initiatives in Indo-Pacific
Participating U.S. and partner country officials, and executives representing businesses operating in the Indo-Pacific region, highlighted a wide range of commercial deals and new initiatives, including:
- In January 2023, Hanwha Solutions Corp announced that it will invest $2.5 billion for solar power manufacturing in Georgia, including a $2.31 billion investment to build a solar ingot, water, cell, and module factory. This factory will employ as many as 2,000 people.
- In October 2022, Honda and LG Energy Solution announced they will build a $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Ohio that will create at least 2,200 new jobs. In addition to this joint venture with LG Energy Solution, Honda is investing $700 million to retool three of its existing Ohio-based car plants for EV production.
- In July 2022, Panasonic announced a $4 billion investment in batteries in Kansas that will hire as many as 4,000 people. The batteries will power electric vehicles for companies like Tesla.
- In April 2022, Toyota announced a major investment in sustainable transportation & American workers: $383 million across four U.S. plants to support fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles and build the workforce of the future. Green investments create jobs and drive economic growth.
- Japan’s announcement in 2021 for additional budget to develop its semiconductor industry supported several new projects in 2022, including:
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Sony received $3.5 billion in support for a joint venture to build a new chip fabrication plant.
- Kioxia Corp. and U.S. firm Western Digital Corp. received $680 million for a semiconductor production facility.
- Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry agreed to provide $320 million in investment support to U.S. semiconductor manufacturer Micron to accelerate the manufacturing ramp up of advanced chips at its Hiroshima facility.
- The Department of State, Bureau of Energy Resources’ (ENR) Power Sector Program, will provide technical assistance to the Malaysian electric utility company, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) to displace up to 100 MW of diesel generation with solar and battery storage deployment. The assistance will develop technical analysis of possible configurations of planned solar and battery storage projects to help Sabah evaluate options, recommendations to ensure system reliability and develop an implementation plan once Sabah Electricity determines its preferred project(s).
- The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has approved funding to NOW Telecom Company, Inc. (“NOW”) for technical assistance to support the development and implementation of a fifth generation (“5G”) stand-alone network in the Philippines. The technical assistance will provide NOW with the design of a national 5G wireless and broadband network, including plans for a pilot project in Metro Manila to inform full-scale network rollout.
- A USTDA grant to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is funding a feasibility study to assess the technical and economic viability of retrofitting the Vajiralongkorn Dam in western Thailand with a grid-connected pumped storage hydropower (PSH) plant. The PSH plant would provide a clean energy generation source and energy storage solution to support Thailand’s clean energy transition.
- USTDA is providing a technical assistance grant to support the digital transformation of the Malaysian electric utility company, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB). The grant will be co-funded in partnership with the U.S.-based Electric Power Research Institute and will develop a detailed roadmap to help guide the modernization of SEB’s power generation, distribution, and transmission assets.
- USTDA and GE Healthcare will co-fund a pilot project to support the Indonesian Ministry of Health develop a national image and data repository, creating a new cloud-based centralized warehouse for electronic medical records and a hub-and-spoke network connecting general practitioners in primary care facilities with cardiologists in a central hospital.
- The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has more than $6.6 billion in total active commitments across the Indo-Pacific region, invested across 395 individual projects. The agency committed $2.1 billion of financing across 49 projects in the Indo-Pacific region in Fiscal Year 2022 alone. DFC has active commitments in 16 countries throughout the region.
- Since October 2022 DFC has approved three new projects worth approximately $110 million of total investment to advance economic growth and development in India and across Southeast Asia, including:
- Expanding access to affordable housing for women in India: A $75 million loan to India-based Home First Finance will support affordable housing mortgage loans to low-income borrowers, with 100 percent of the loan proceeds financing housing for women.
- Supporting tech-enabled health, education, and financial services in Southeast Asia: A $30 million equity investment in Asia Partners Fund II will help close the late-stage funding gap for technology companies operating in lower-middle income countries across Southeast Asia, prioritizing investments in tech or tech-enabled businesses such as in health, education, and financial services.
- Expanding access to electric vehicles in India: A $5 million loan will enable Revfin Services Private Limited, a digital lending company that leverages non-traditional data to underwrite electric vehicle financing loans, to expand financial access and inclusion for underserved individuals and communities and provide an e-mobility solution to support India’s clean energy transition.
New U.S. and Partner Efforts to Advance an Open, Connected, Prosperous, Secure, and Resilient Indo-Pacific
- The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced two new Calls for Proposals. The first calls for infrastructure activities that support the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) pillars of advancing digital infrastructure, promoting clean energy, and strengthening supply chains. The second calls for proposals to expand USTDA’s portfolio in Pacific Island countries. Additionally, IPEF Infrastructure Accelerator Teams will work across U.S. Government agencies and like-minded IPEF partners to identify and define bankable projects that can unlock new public and private financing. IPEF Infrastructure Accelerator Teams will visit India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Fiji and Vietnam.
- The State Department’s Clean Energy Demand Initiative launched a pilot program in the Philippines with outdoor retailer REI Co-op, USAID’s Energy Secure Philippines, and the Philippines’ Department of Energy. The program will support REI’s suppliers in the Philippines to access clean energy to reduce emissions from their manufacturing operations.
- ENR’s Power Sector Program is advising and building capacity of Malaysia’s Ministry of Energy, the Energy Commission, and Sustainable Energy Development Authority on battery energy storage systems (BESS), BESS technical specifications, leading practices for competitive and transparent BESS procurement, and business models for BESS.
- ENR’s Power Sector Program is helping Thailand achieve its clean energy, market deregulation, and smart grid goals with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA). With EGAT, ENR is supporting an energy storage analysis related to the deployment of hybrid floating solar and hydropower projects and helping EGAT develop a national electric vehicle charging management strategy.
- The Feed the Future Bangladesh Trade Support Project supports streamlining and digitizing new business startups in Bangladesh. USAID supported the launch of an online registration system to significantly reduce the time and cost required to register a company in Bangladesh. The updated system will now generate one of the most important documents, the Articles of Association, for the applicant for free, saving applicants significant time and money.
- The Indo-Pacific Quad is also making sure that goods and ideas can flow freely throughout the region so that we can seize the opportunities of the 21st century together. We have taken steps to deepen cooperation in critical and emerging technologies to ensure democratic countries remain beacons for innovation and that science and technological advancements are used to empower people and societies throughout the region. For instance, we expect to strengthen such cooperation through the new International Standards Cooperation Network (ISCN). This cooperation will help ensure technology development in the region is guided by our shared democratic values.
- In December 2022, the Quad Technology Business and Investment Forum convened over 150 government, academia, and industry representatives for discussions on specific technology sectors – such as AI, biotech, and quantum – promoting cross-border cooperation in AI, biotech, and quantum. Governments cannot pioneer a pathway without private sector and academia, so the forum discussed innovative forms of collaborative partnerships in areas where government and commercial interests are aligned. We view this as the first of many.
The U.S. government delegation in Tokyo was led by Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose W. Fernandez along with other senior State Department officials. U.S. Trade and Development Agency Director Enoh T. Ebong opened the event. Senior government officials from Japan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines participated on behalf of their agencies. Distinguished speakers from the private sector and partner organizations participated throughout the day, including executives and officials from:
- Centre for Policy Dialogue
- Delta Airlines
- EPRI International
- Mitsubishi Corporation
- Mitsu O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.
- MUFG Bank, Ltd.
- NEC Corporation
- NOW Telecom
- Oracle Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
- Regen Renewables (Pvt) Ltd.
- Sarawak Energy Berhad
- Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc.
- Teradyne, Inc.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency sponsored the Forum in collaboration with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the American Association of the Indo-Pacific.
For additional information on the 2023 Indo-Pacific Business Forum please visit: https://www.indopacificbusinessforum.com/ .