I presented on-going research on US-Japan-Southeast Asian infrastructure regulation at the East West Center DC via online webinar.
This presentation discussed a host of issues which lie beneath the surface of US-Japanese diplomatic discourses and policies to promote development financing for ‘quality infrastructure’ projects in Southeast Asia. While both countries share a common diplomatic language, the presentation will outline how their strategic goals differ and create limits to coordination and desired policy outcomes with respect to energy infrastructure projects in Mekong Southeast Asia. Recent US outward development finance policy has sought to catch up and compete with alternative sources of infrastructure finance, particularly from China, without adequate whole-of-government and business coordination, strategy or resources. This has been to the neglect of efforts to credibly enforce rules for competitive market practices in the ASEAN private and development finance space, resulting in dual failures of competition. Prioritizing development and export finance competition over efforts to constrain rival regional investors has created an ambivalent position for Japanese policymakers and hampered efforts to push for more harmonized and better socio-environmental standards for quality infrastructure in Southeast Asia.