Author: Kevin Chen, ACI

For developing countries in Southeast Asia, growing global interest in their infrastructure needs has been cause for both excitement and concern. In 2021, the G7 announced its support for the US-led ‘Build Back Better World’ (B3W) initiative, while the European Union unveiled its own ‘Globally Connected Europe’ infrastructure strategy.

These initiatives aim to address the US$40 trillion infrastructure gap in developing countries, yet they also raise geopolitical concerns by seemingly competing with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The last thing Southeast Asian governments want is to be caught in a geopolitical crossfire over investment choices.

But recipient countries have more to look forward to than to fear. New Western initiatives can supplement the BRI’s offerings and encourage Beijing to address its shortcomings. Above all, these alternatives offer Southeast Asian governments more…

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