US-Japan-Australia Infrastructure Collaboration in the Indo-Pacific: Opportunities and Obstacles

Infrastructure needs in developing Asia are vast: the Asian Development Bank estimates that $26 trillion is needed through 2030. Bridging this infrastructure gap will require significantly increased engagement and public spending from governments, assistance from donor governments and international financial institutions, and—most importantly—unlocking investment from the private sector. The Free and Open Indo-Pacific has a focus on supporting high-quality infrastructure as a sustainable and economical alternative to China’s Belt and Road state-driven investments, but FOIP goals and approaches differ significantly between the United States and its allies Japan and Australia. 

How can these allies coordinate effectively to ensure a sustainable infrastructure future for the Indo-Pacific region? Deputy Head of Mission Katrina Cooper from the Australian Embassy will kick off the conversation with opening remarks. Emerging experts Dr. Huong Le, Courtney Weatherby, and Hiroshi Yasui will explore the context of FOIP infrastructure engagements from each country and discuss specific obstacles and opportunities to collaborate moving forward. The panel discussion will be moderated by Vice President for Policy Marc Mealy of the US – ASEAN Business Council and the discussion will be followed by a Q&A session. This event is part of the Building the Indo-Pacific series, which convenes thought-leaders from the US, ASEAN, and other Indo-Pacific countries to promote messaging around key FOIP infrastructure and development programs.

These experts include:

Marc Mealy, Senior Vice-President for Policy at the US-ASEAN Business Council (MODERATOR)

Marc Mealy is the Senior Vice President-Policy at the US-ASEAN Business Council.  He manages the production of the Council’s information products, coordinates advocacy efforts across our country and industry committees, and serves as the in-house lead on international trade policy.  He joined the Council in 2003 as the Senior Director for Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei Affairs as well as Coordinator of the Council’s ASEAN Financial Services Working Group. He was named the Vice President in 2010.

Katrina Cooper, Deputy Head of Mission from the Australian Embassy

Ms. Cooper is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and commenced as Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Washington in October 2017. Previously, she served as Australia’s Ambassador to Mexico (2008–2012), with non-resident accreditation to Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama. She was Counsellor in Port Moresby (2002–05) and Second Secretary, Santiago de Chile (1995–1998). Ms Cooper’s last placement in Canberra was Senior Legal Advisor. She is a Women in Leadership champion and served on the Steering Committee for the Network of Women Diplomats Australia. Ms Cooper holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws with Honours from the Australian National University. She is an Australian legal practitioner and has been admitted to the Supreme Court of the ACT.

Courtney Weatherby, Research Analyst, Stimson Center Southeast Asia Program

Courtney is a research analyst with the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia and Energy, Water, & Sustainability programs. Her research focuses on sustainable infrastructure development, regional security, and energy challenges, particularly food-water-energy issues in the Mekong basin in mainland Southeast Asia. She holds a M.A. in Asian Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Hiroshi Yasui, Infrastructure Finance Expert and Summer Intern Researcher at the Stimson Center

Hiroshi has worked at the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) since 2008, with expertise in project finance for independent power/water producers, export finance, and fundraising. After completing his M.A. degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University in spring 2019, he is using the summer to get a different experience through doing a research internship with the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia and Energy, Water & Sustainability programs.

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