Both committed to regional partnerships but U.S. is struggling to make its mark

A year ago, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence announced that the United States would support a Southeast Asian plan to transform the region’s rapidly growing cities into hi-tech hubs. The move would “spur renewed American investment in the region’s digital infrastructure”, Pence said at the plan’s launch in November 2018, where he also promised an initial U.S. investment of US$10 million. But the U.S. does not appear to be making much new progress on the ground, observers say. “With the U.S., it is unclear how the US$10 million pledge was supposed to be distributed or how it has been used,” said Amalina Anuar, a research analyst at the Centre for Multilateralism Studies at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.