Australia expected to announce billion dollar loan fund for Pacific

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 9, 2018

Mr Morrison is also expected to announce a new defence force mobile training team, annual meetings of defence, police, and border security chiefs, and new diplomatic posts in a number of Pacific countries.

China has spent over a billion dollars on concessional loans and gifts since 2011 to become the Pacific's second-largest donor after Australia, stoking concern in the West that nations could end up overburdened and in debt to Beijing.

The Coalition has previously been accused of failing to take the region seriously after Mr Morrison downgraded the Pacific portfolio in his ministry and skipped the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

Australia will create a A$2 billion (RM6.04 billion) fund to provide loans to Pacific nations to build infrastructure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce on Thursday, as Canberra seeks to counter China's influence in the region.

"This US$2 billion infrastructure initiative will significantly boost Australia's support for infrastructure development in Pacific countries and Timor Leste", according to a speech Morrison is due to deliver in the state of Queensland and seen by Reuters.

A further $1 billion will go to Efic, Australia's export financing agency, to support Australian businesses active in the Pacific.

Australian media reports Mr Morrison will today put forward the fund, which will invest in infrastructure like telecommunications, energy, transport and water.

Mr Morrison will today pledge to open diplomatic missions in Palau, the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Niue and the Cook Islands, and strengthen defence cooperation in the region.

To counter, Morrison plans to announce that Australia will renew its focus on the Pacific, primarily through a new infrastructure fund.

Ahead of next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation and East Asia summits, the Government has approached TV broadcasters about getting more lifestyle, news, current affair, drama and children's programs to the Pacific community.

Ties between the two countries have been strained since Australia accused China of meddling in its domestic affairs late past year.

A new sports pathway program will also provide stronger sporting links between the Pacific, which has a population of more than 11 million, a lot of them in Papua New Guinea.

Earlier this month, Australia said it would help PNG develop a naval base, beating out China as a possible partner for the port development.

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