WEATHER AUTHORITY : Flash Flood Watch View Alerts

Asia wants some of Trump's infrastructure billions

The US isn't the only place where big investment in infrastructure is sorely needed.President Trump wants to p...

Posted: Feb 23, 2018 12:16 PM
Updated: Feb 23, 2018 12:16 PM

The US isn't the only place where big investment in infrastructure is sorely needed.

President Trump wants to pour hundreds of billions of government money into upgrading US bridges and highways, which he has slammed as "third world." But developing countries across Asia and the Pacific are also hungry for American dollars to help improve their roads and railways.

It's a subject that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has raised as he prepares to meet Trump in Washington on Friday.

"We need trillions and trillions of dollars of additional infrastructure investment in the region," Turnbull said Thursday.

Economists agree with him. The Asian Development Bank estimated last year that developing nations in Asia and the Pacific would require $26 trillion through 2030 to build things like power grids, transportation links and sewage pipes.

One major power is already stepping in to meet some of those needs.

China is pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into ports, rail lines and other projects in Asia and beyond through its Belt and Road program.

Related: China's new world order

The world's biggest exporter is trying to build and strengthen a vast trading network across Asia, Africa and Europe.

Experts say the US and its allies are worried that China is using the program to expand its influence and limit other countries' cooperation with the West.

"Their biggest concern is that Belt and Road is a means of cementing Chinese economic hegemony," said Harsh Pant, an international relations professor at King's College London.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in October that "no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating 'One Belt, One Road,'" which is another name for the Chinese program.

An alternative to China

But the challenge facing the US and its allies is how to respond to the huge sums China is pouring into the projects -- and the ties it's building with the nations receiving the investments.

Some of China's regional rivals are already investigating alternatives. Japan and India, which have eyed Belt and Road warily, are backing a project called the Asia Africa Growth Corridor, which aims to boost trade between the continents by beefing up infrastructure like ports.

Related: China has a grand plan to dominate world trade

Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute in Australia, says that kind of collaboration could have real appeal because many governments would prefer to partner with countries other than China on big infrastructure projects.

Increased US involvement could make it even more attractive.

While it's hard to compete with the billions China offers, according to Graham, countries like the US and Japan benefit from advantages in engineering know-how, project management and quality control.

"They should play to their strengths" and offer higher standards, he said.

Related: A massive US farming industry fears China trade trouble

But pledging big sums to overseas projects won't fit neatly with Trump's "America First" agenda and focus on improving US infrastructure.

And with tensions already rising between Washington and Beijing over trade, the Chinese government might not take kindly to the US teaming up on infrastructure spending in Asia with rivals such as Japan and India.

"Beijing will see this as an attempt to reshape the balance of power in the wider Indo-Pacific," Pant said.

Supporting American jobs

Some experts say there are good reasons for America to pump money into Asia and the Pacific.

Last year, Trump yanked the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a huge free trade deal covering 12 nations on both sides of the ocean. By pulling out of it, Trump raised doubts about the US government's future role in Asia.

Teaming up with its allies to invest in infrastructure "could be a useful way of drawing the US back in," said Bates Gill, a security studies professor at Australia's Macquarie University.

Some major US companies like GE and Caterpillar have already backed Belt and Road plans.

Related: Why tech secrets, not steel, could cause the real clash between the US and China

Gill argues that Trump could pitch greater US involvement in foreign infrastructure spending as a way to create American jobs and boost exports. The projects could generate business for the US companies that make the machinery and other equipment required by the construction activity.

Demand for infrastructure in the region is so high, Gill said, that China's pockets aren't deep enough to cover it all.

"We want to work with China to ensure that their infrastructure investment is commercially sustainable, is transparent and adds to the economic growth that is so needed in our part of the world," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said this week.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94021

Reported Deaths: 2846
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7017157
DeSoto544859
Harrison378073
Jackson341869
Madison321886
Rankin320276
Lee263368
Jones243878
Forrest240971
Washington218671
Lafayette211639
Lauderdale2015124
Bolivar179765
Oktibbeha175950
Lamar163934
Neshoba1548104
Panola144927
Sunflower142945
Lowndes141257
Warren138250
Leflore137781
Pontotoc124116
Pike121749
Monroe119966
Scott116825
Copiah116433
Coahoma113627
Holmes109458
Marshall108015
Lincoln107353
Grenada106835
Yazoo104130
Simpson101544
Union98324
Tate95837
Leake94138
Adams92236
Wayne87721
Pearl River86952
Marion84234
Prentiss82617
Covington80822
Itawamba78021
Alcorn77611
Tallahatchie76221
Newton76123
George75513
Winston73119
Tishomingo66537
Chickasaw66224
Tippah65017
Attala64325
Walthall59525
Clay58217
Hancock56921
Clarke56342
Jasper55915
Noxubee54515
Smith52614
Calhoun50712
Tunica48113
Montgomery45821
Claiborne45616
Lawrence42712
Yalobusha41914
Perry41318
Quitman3755
Humphreys37415
Stone36012
Greene35417
Webster33213
Jefferson Davis32911
Amite31410
Carroll31412
Wilkinson30118
Kemper28615
Sharkey26313
Jefferson2439
Benton2232
Franklin1913
Choctaw1806
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 132452

Reported Deaths: 2335
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19230342
Mobile13192291
Montgomery8711175
Madison767475
Tuscaloosa7355114
Lee576560
Shelby576550
Baldwin512449
Marshall388943
Calhoun339040
Etowah338447
Morgan322626
Houston275322
Elmore258647
DeKalb237519
St. Clair225535
Walker225080
Talladega209927
Limestone202119
Cullman186819
Dallas176226
Franklin174828
Russell17302
Autauga171425
Lauderdale166233
Colbert162126
Blount157314
Escambia157325
Jackson152711
Chilton151328
Dale134143
Covington133427
Coffee12898
Pike11729
Chambers114042
Tallapoosa113984
Clarke106317
Marion95228
Butler91138
Barbour8487
Winston71812
Marengo70219
Lowndes65127
Pickens63914
Bibb63510
Randolph62413
Hale61628
Lawrence60320
Bullock59314
Geneva5844
Monroe5798
Cherokee57516
Clay5537
Washington54913
Perry5396
Conecuh53011
Wilcox53011
Crenshaw52532
Henry4805
Macon47920
Fayette4299
Sumter42319
Lamar3552
Choctaw34612
Cleburne3346
Greene30215
Coosa1673
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 65°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Oxford
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 61°
Starkville
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather