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TELFS, Austria — President Joe Biden outlined plans Sunday for a range of global infrastructure projects the U.S. aims to help finance with $200 billion in government and private sector funding as it looks to counter similar efforts by China.
Biden announced the efforts at the G7 summit in Germany, where he has been meeting with world leaders. The funding will be spread out over five years and come from a mix of existing federal funds, other G7 and European Union countries, and private companies and investment funds, said a senior administration official.
“Developing countries often lack the essential infrastructure to help navigate global shocks like a pandemic, so they feel the impacts more acutely and they have a harder time recovering in our deeply connected world,” Biden said in remarks at the summit flanked by the other G7 leaders. “That’s not just a humanitarian concern. It’s an economic and a security concern for all of us.”
For nearly a decade, China has been investing heavily in building up the infrastructure of developing countries in Africa and Asia, with Chinese banks financing everything from new seaports to 5G wireless networks through its Belt and Road Initiative. Foreign policy analysts have said that has created a financial dependence between those countries and China that could be strategically important for China economically and militarily.
“This isn’t a charity. It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone, including the American people, the people of all our nations. It will boost all of our economies, and give a chance for us to share our positive vision for the future,” Biden said. “To let communities around the world see for themselves the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies, because when democracies demonstrate what we could do, all that we have to offer, I have no doubt that will win the competition every time.”
The U.S. is aiming to make its financing program more attractive to countries by arguing that it will more directly improve their economies without putting them in debt, said a senior administration official.
“I think many countries that have received funding or so called investments from the [Belt and Road Initiative] have now, after years of receiving that investment, realized that they are further in debt, that their GDP hasn’t grown significantly, that the so-called investments have not reached their populations,” said the official on a call with reporters.
Ahead of the meeting, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the global infrastructure push would be “one of the hallmarks of the Biden administration foreign policy over the remainder of his tenure.”
Among the initial projects receiving funding from various U.S. agencies will be a solar panel project in Angola, a vaccine manufacturing facility in Senegal, a telecommunications cable to connect Singapore to France through Egypt and the Horn of Africa, and an investment in a venture capital fund that finances agriculture projects in rural India, the White House said.
The projects being funded will be centered around four areas — combating climate change with clean energy technology and investing in climate resilient infrastructure; expanding internet access and secure communications technology; advancing gender equality with child care and sanitation projects; and upgrading health care infrastructure, including vaccine and medical manufacturing and disease surveillance.
Biden announced the global infrastructure plans at last year’s G7 summit, and over the past year administration officials have been putting together the details. Since then, the White House has rebranded the initiative from “Build Back World” to the Partnership for Global Infrastructure.
“We’re ready to get to work, together, all of us,” Biden said on Sunday.
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