The US government's development finance institution OPIC is keen to invest more in development projects in India, a top US official said on Tuesday.
"India is clearly an anchor of the Indo Pacific strategy. We are working closely with Modi government on their priorities”, said David Bohigian, executive vice president of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).
OPIC is a self-sustaining US government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets. It has $23 billion portfolios across 90 countries in the world in every sector from small, medium size ventures up to major infrastructure projects.
Bohigian, who was appointed by US President Donald Trump last year, said the OPIC wants to expand its presence in India and support development projects including small and medium enterprises and infrastructure.
He, however, added that OPIC does not have any numerical target for investments in India, and the development finance institution is looking at the merits of the projects in India.
“While we continue to look at other opportunities in India in venture capital, we are looking at every sector including infrastructure, hospitals, education, solar & supporting development needs of this country. We continue to look to do that through venture capital and our other instruments including political risk insurance, project finance and private equity”, said Bohigian.
The move is seen as a counter to China’s rising influence in Indo-Pacific region that stretches from the east coast of Africa, through Australia to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
China's supremacy in the region is visible from its infrastructure-building efforts. Chief among them is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global plan to build or expand highways, railways, ports, pipelines and power plants.
The announcement by Bohigian comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July unveiled America’s economic strategy for the Indo-Pacific, which included $113 million in investments for emerging Asian economies.
“The great theme of our engagement is this: where America goes, we seek partnership, not domination. We have never and will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific and we will oppose any country that does", Pompeo said.
China, meanwhile, expressed concerns on the growing American influence in the Indo-Pacific region and urged India to join hands against bullying.
"What we are firmly against is attempts to use the so-called Indo-Pacific strategy as a tool to counter China," Ji Rong, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy, said in a statement.
Ji said China and India need to deepen cooperation to fight trade protectionism, which will hamper both Chinese and Indian economies.
"Practicing unilateral trade protectionism in the name of “national security” and “fair trade” will not only affect China’s economic development, but also undermine the external environment of India and hinder India’s booming economy."