US Engagement on Indo-Pacific Infrastructure and Development

At the Indo-Pacific Business Forum held on July 30, 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched a new era of US engagement on infrastructure and development in the Indo-Pacific. Since then the US government has pledged more than $200 million for programming in the Indo-Pacific ranging from support for local infrastructure investments, energy sector improvements, and digital economy advancement. New legislation moving through Congress such as the BUILD Act and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), if passed, could position the US public and private sector as a major investor in high quality infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific and work with strategic partners to provide a clear choice for developing countries to advance socio-economic development.

The Stimson Center invites you to hear from key public and private sector stakeholders for an on record discussion the benefits and challenges to engaging the Indo-Pacific on infrastructure and development opportunities.


WHAT: White House and Congressional stakeholders at will introduce emerging US development and infrastructure programming for the Indo-Pacific followed by a discussion panel of private sector stakeholders and key thought leaders.

WHERE: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC, 20036

WHEN: Thursday September 6, 3:00-4:30 PM 

RSVP: Click here to RSVP for the event.

Featuring Keynote Speeches by:

Clete Willems, Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director for the National Economic Council

Clete Willems serves as the senior advisor to the President on global development and international trade. As a member of the National Security Council, Mr. Willems serves as the senior advisor to the President on global development and international trade. Mr. Willems was most recently Chief Counsel for Negotiations, Legislation and Administrative Law at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative—a position he started in June 2015. Previously, he was a Legal Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the WTO and an Assistant General Counsel at USTR. From 2007 to 2009 Mr. Willems worked on the Hill Budget Committee immediately after serving as Legislative Director for Representative Paul Ryan.

Ted S. Yoho (R- FL), House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairman and co-author of the BUILD Act

Congressman Ted Yoho represents North Central Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. He was elected to the 113th Congress in November 2012, and won re-election for his third term in the 115th Congress. His approach to government is guided by constitutional principles, limited government, fiscal conservatism, Personal Responsibility, and free enterprise. These principles keep Congressman Yoho focused on supporting bills that help make American strong.  Ted has been known to stand up and challenge the status quo for the better.

Prior to serving in Congress, he was a small business owner who operated several large animal veterinary practices for 30 years. During his successful career, he established a reputation of accountability and service. Born in Minnesota, Ted moved to South Florida where he met his wife Carolyn in the fourth grade and married her at age 19. After completing his AA degree at Broward Community College, Ted and Carolyn moved to Gainesville where Ted enrolled at the University of Florida. He graduated in 1983 with his bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, while Carolyn had created her own very successful court reporting agencies.

Ted and Carolyn are the proud parents of three children: Katie, Lauren, and Tyler. When he is not in Washington representing his constituents and serving the country he loves, he is home spending time with his wife and three kids, cheering on the Gators, and if time permits occasionally fishing. 


Followed by a discussion panel with:

Sumona Guha, Vice President, Albright Stonebridge Group

Sumona Guha is a Vice President at ASG, where she draws on twenty years of experience in Europe and South Asia and advises clients on market entry and expansion, including political and regulatory strategies.  She spent 18 years in the U.S. government where she served in the Office of the Vice President of the United States, Office of the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning office, as well as in U.S. embassies in Moscow and Paris. 

She also was Senior Director at the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), where she focused on infrastructure, energy, and manufacturing and launched an Indo-Pacific initiative to promote economic connectivity across the region.  

While at the U.S. Department of State, Ms. Guha spent four years on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff with responsibility for South Asia, and was a Senior Advisor and Deputy Director for Afghanistan Affairs in the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Prior to that, Ms. Guha served in the White House as Special Advisor for Europe and Eurasia in the Office of the Vice President.  Ms. Guha also served in the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs as a Special Assistant for Europe and Eurasia. She spent a year as a Pearson Foreign Affairs Fellow in the U.S. Senate. 

Conor Savoy, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Global Innovation Fund

Conor Savoy is the director of policy and advocacy for the Global Innovation Fund based in Washington, DC. He brings a decade of policy analysis and research experience to GIF. Prior to joining GIF, he served as deputy director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. At CSIS, Conor helped build an innovative research program focused on the evolving role of the private sector in international development. Earlier in his career, Conor worked as a researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations concentrating on U.S. foreign and national security policy. He has published widely on U.S. foreign assistance policy, development finance, and U.S. foreign policy. He holds an MA in international relations from Boston University and a BA in history from George Washington University. Conor is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Hari Achuthan, CEO and Founder of Convalt Energy

Hari Achuthan is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ACO Investment Group and one of its portfolio companies – Convalt Energy. Prior to founding ACO and Convalt, Hari was a Director at Credit Suisse Asset Management in the Alternative Investment group, where he covered hedge fund, real estate and private equity strategies. Prior to this, he worked at Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, where he led the group’s global pension strategy and transition management business.

Convalt Energy is a renewable power company developing projects in South East Asia and Africa. Convalt was the first to successfully develop a large utility scale solar project in Myanmar and one of the very few renewable power companies to develop a large utility scale solar project in Lao PDR. While Lao PDR seeks to become the battery of S.E Asia, the need for renewable power has become more imminent especially as a balance to hydropower developme. In Africa, the company is developing projects in Nigeria, Tanzania, Chad and Sierra Leone. The company’s strategy is to develop renewable power in countries where there is a shortage of power. With a faster implementation time period that coal or hydropower, the company seeks to bridge the gap between supply and demand, while providing power at an attractive cost.

Brian Eyler, Stimson Center Southeast Asia Program Director (Moderator)

Brian Eyler is the Director of Stimson’s Southeast Asia program. Eyler is an expert on transboundary issues in the Mekong region and specializes in China’s economic cooperation with Southeast Asia. He has spent more than 15 years living and working in China and over the last ten years has conducted extensive research with stakeholders in the Mekong region, leading numerous study tours through China and mainland Southeast Asia. Before coming to the Stimson Center, he served as the Director of the IES Kunming Center at Yunnan University and as a consultant to the UNDP Lancang-Mekong Economic Cooperation program in Kunming, Yunnan province. He holds a MA from the University of California, San Diego and a BA from Bucknell University. Brian is the co-founder of the influential website His first book, The Last Days of the Mighty Mekong will be published by Zed Books in 2017.

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