Afreen Akhter, the deputy assistant secretary of state for the United States, said on Saturday that the country is dedicated to regional and international initiatives that develop prosperity in the Indian Ocean area.
She made the statement while addressing at the 6th Indian Ocean Conference, which concluded on May 13. “We want to see this regional architecture grow and solidify, because we believe it is absolutely necessary in realizing the potential of this region,” she added.
Afreen said that she would take the viewpoints with her when she returns to Washington, adding that “Your voices will guide our efforts to help build a prosperous, peaceful, free, and open Indian Ocean Region.” The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Strategic Dialogue, where IORA Member States and Dialogue Partners will congregate to discuss cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region, will be attended by the United States the following month. As an IORA Dialogue Partner, “comprehensively addressing the climate crisis will be a key priority for us,” Afreen stated.
According to Afreen, the United States is putting into effect a $17 million initiative in Bangladesh over a five-year period. This program will increase Bangladesh’s access to reasonably priced clean energy and foster innovation in the clean energy industry.
Additionally, the United States is collaborating with nations in the Indian Ocean area, including Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and others to limit the flow of plastic pollution, create climate-smart agriculture, and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
By addressing emergencies and making long-term investments, the United States promotes resilience and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region.
She said that from the Strait of Malacca to the Arabian Sea, this strategically significant area is full of promise and opportunity, and the United States is dedicated to it.
“We are already supporting transitions to clean energy throughout the Indian Ocean region,” she stated.
For instance, to increase the generation of solar electricity in India, the U.S. Development Finance Corporation invested $500 million in First Solar.
By lowering pollution in major cities, this initiative helps Prime Minister Modi’s initiative to build 500GW of renewable energy production in India, which would help save lives.
“Through our Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, we are providing a $500 million grant to build hydropower lines and roads in Nepal,” Afreen said.
Naturally, aiding the area in responding to and recovering from the COVID epidemic is a crucial aspect of resilience.
Over 265 million of the over 700 million doses of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine that the United States gave bilaterally and in collaboration with COVAX were given to nations across the Indo-Pacific region, including 161 million only here in Bangladesh, according to Afreen.
The United States Development Finance Corporation has contributed $400 million in finance over the last two years to the expansion of Sri Lanka’s micro, small, and medium-sized businesses, particularly those owned by women.
A $15 million DFC loan to BPPL Holdings PLC, a manufacturer of polyester yarn in Sri Lanka, is helping to reduce plastic waste while also promoting higher production and, of course, livelihoods.
These are just a few of the many ways that the United States assists in this crucial region’s resilience and success.
She said that South Asia is still one of the least interconnected continents, particularly in terms of commerce and interpersonal relationships. “The region will pay a steep price for this,”
A $44 billion yearly gap is estimated to exist between intraregional commerce and its potential.
A market for energy among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal would reportedly save $17 billion in construction expenses, according to the World Bank.
Additionally, improvements in logistics and transportation should lower South Asia’s 50% higher cost of shipping containers compared to OECD countries.
The economy of this area would undergo radical upheaval as a result of these developments.
“Our Indo-Pacific Strategy makes it clear that we believe building collective capacity via cooperation is essential to realizing our shared, optimistic vision for the region. For this endeavor, developing and using regional architectures is essential, Afreen stated.
She said that associations like BIMSTEC and SAARC may assist South Asian Indian Ocean nations achieve economic development.