Australia which has announced a slew of projects last month to boost infrastructure in the Pacific islands amid increasing Chinese inroads in the region is looking to partner India for projects in the Pacific as part of Canberra’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
Australia and India have talked about cooperation including in the Pacific and most recent example is joint leadership (along with Indonesia) of the multination observer group for elections in Fiji.
India has a development partnership arrangement with the Pacific states and supports a range of activities and projects in that region. The Australian Prime Minister announced the creation of an Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP).
This 2 billion USD infrastructure initiative (1.5 billion USD in loans, 500 million USD in grants] will significantly boost Australia’s support for infrastructure development in Pacific countries and Timor Leste. It will use grant funding combined with loans to support the development of high priority infrastructure such as telecommunications, energy, transport, and water.
“As a neighbour and friend, Australia has a long track record of supporting critical infrastructure in the Pacific region. Australia has supported initiatives such as maintenance of key economic roads in regional countries; re-establishment of the water supply in Honiara; funding for the design of a new port in Vanuatuand most recently the construction of the Coral Sea Cable System, bringing new high speed internet connectivity to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands,” a source informed.
The AIFFP, to be managed by the Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), will be operational by July 2019. They will look for opportunities to work with bilateral and multilateral partners and the private sector.
In addition to the AIFFP, Canberra has proposed to strengthen the Government’s ability to support privately funded infrastructure in the Pacific.
The second major infrastructure announcement is that the Australian Government will ask Parliament to give Efic, Australia’s export financing agency, an extra 1 billion USD in callable capital and a new more flexible infrastructure financing power to support investments in the region which have a broad national benefit for Australia. These new measures will enhance the government’s ability to support Australian businesses to be active in the region.
The Government intends to expand Australia’s diplomatic presence to every Pacific Islands Forum member over the next few years, this would see Australia establish five new diplomatic missions in Cook Islands; French Polynesia; Niue; Palau; and the Republic of Marshall Islands.
The Australian Prime Minister announced that the Australian Defence Force will become more active in the Pacific o including opportunities to establish a rotational ADF Pacific Mobile Training Team to undertake training and engagement with other forces; convening an annual Joint Heads of Pacific Security Forces event in Australia and expanding its sporting engagements in the Pacific.
Australia will also establish a Pacific Faculty of Policing at the Australian Institute of Police Management in addition to Australia Pacific Security College and Pacific Fusion Centre, which will address gaps in training and information sharing in the Pacific.