Australia has announced that it will be funding up to $25 million worth of infrastructure projects across South Asia, with the Indian Ocean being a key region to shore up geopolitical support.
Australian foreign minister Marise Payne confirmed her intent for the nation to increase its overseas footprint in key strategic areas. There has even been talks of setting up a quadrilateral agreement between Australia, Japan, India and the US, in light of China’s launch of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Australia has already invested $2 billion worth of funding into the Pacific region to help build infrastructure, connectivity services and better prepare the area for dealing with technological advances.
“The South Asian Regional Infrastructure Connectivity plan will run over four years, and the $25 million in funding may just be an initial sum if circumstances move along as expected,” Payne said.
“The funding will aim for quality of infrastructure and investment, particularly in transport and energy sectors and would target areas that can generate a return on investment and add the most to India’s economy.
“Australia plans to provide expertise in these sectors and to leverage our comparative advantage in infrastructure policy and financing. If Australia can help get projects off the ground, then it is likely to gain key support on all sides fairly quickly, which could help in the navigation of any political hurdles.
“The peaceful and open character of this ocean is a vital national interest for Australia. The fact that more than half of Australia’s exports go through this channel and almost half of its global trade takes the same route.
“Given that a third of Australia’s top trading partners sit along the Indian Ocean’s rim, it makes sense for the nation to offer more stability.”