美国 - 东盟商业理事会政策副总裁Marc Mealy希望美国国际金融公司能够帮助美国商界成为东南亚“可行和可靠的替代商业伙伴”。
中国总理李克强将出席在新加坡举行的东盟 - 中国峰会和东亚峰会，习近平主席将出席亚太经合组织会议。俄罗斯总统普京也将参加在新加坡和莫尔兹比港举行的峰会。
Pence in Asia to Highlight US Commitment
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is in Singapore for regional summits during which he will highlight the Trump administration’s commitment to keeping the Indo-Pacific region free and open, but where leaders will be watching closely what he will actually offer, both on security as well as trade and investment.
In a briefing to reporters, a senior administration official said the vice president’s visit to the region will unveil “concrete, substantive initiatives” to fulfill the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy outlined by President Donald Trump in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, last year.
The strategy focuses on achieving free markets and freedom of navigation in the region, and replaces the Obama-era “pivot to Asia,” a strategic “re-balancing” of U.S. interests from Europe and the Middle East.
In his October speech at the Hudson Institute, Pence called Chinese President Xi Jin Ping's Belt and Road Initiative, “debt trap diplomacy.”
In Asia, he will likely highlight the American alternative, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC), a new agency created under the bipartisan BUILD Act. The new $60 billion initiative supports private investments for infrastructure projects around the world.
The Maldives, Sri Lanka and Malaysia are some of the nations rethinking BRI investments because of problems arising from what critics see as a Chinese debt trap. Beijing denies the accusations that its loans create problems ranging from corruption, labor violations to objectionable debt.
Marc Mealy, vice president on policy at the US-ASEAN Business Council, a lobby group for American companies, hopes the USIDFC will help position the American business community as a “viable and credible alternative commercial partner” for Southeast Asia.
One of the issues in focus at the Singapore summits is the trade spat between Washington and Beijing, which has left countries in the region on edge.
The U.S.-Sino tariff wars have forced Southeast Asian nations to rethink their business strategy, and there have been winners and losers in different sectors of individual countries.
Countries are also watching the Trump administration’s trade and tariff policies with allies in the region. In Japan, Pence pushed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a bilateral trade agreement that President Trump hopes will cut Tokyo's trade surplus with Washington.
In Singapore, Pence is expected to continue the U.S. bilateral free-trade agenda with several countries in the region, including Vietnam and the Philippines.
This may be at odds with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which prefers to deal with trading partners as a regional block.
ASEAN already has five free-trade agreements with all of the major economies in Asia-Pacific, including China, Japan, India, South Korea and New Zealand. The regional block is trying to bring all five of the individual deals into a single agreement called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that, if concluded, would constitute more than forty percent of the world's population.
Countries are also concerned about U.S.-Sino tensions over Taiwan and rising hostility in the South China Sea, especially in light of a recent near-collision between the USS Decatur and the Chinese warship, Luyang.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang will attend the ASEAN – China Summit and the East Asia Summit in Singapore and President Xi Jinping will be at APEC. Russian President Vladimir Putin will also be going to the summits in Singapore and Port Moresby.
US Losing Its Luster for Foreign Students
The U.S. remains the top destination in the world for more than 1 million visiting students — hosting more than double the next country, the United Kingdom. But while 1.5 percent more students studied in the U.S. last year, the rate of new enrollments — specifically, undergraduate students — declined by 6.6 percent, a trend first seen the preceding year, according to the Institute for International Education’s (IIE) annual Open Doors report.
Tuition costs of around $20,000 a year for public institutions to more than $70,000 for elite private universities, make the U.S. look less attractive to international students, as global competition increases, educators said.
65% of international students rely on “international funding sources” said IIE spokesperson Catherine Morris, “with well over half of all students (59 percent) funded through their own personal and family funding.”
Among undergraduates, 82 percent rely on personal and family funding. Most are not eligible for financial aid at U.S. schools.
China and India send nearly half of all international students, 363,341 and 196,271, respectively, to the U.S. A currency correction in India two years ago wiped out funding sources for many students there hoping to head to the U.S. And Chinese students, who dominate the population of international students, report growing discontent with paying full tuition next to subsidized domestic students.
“The current financial model for higher education isn’t sustainable,” offered Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “We can’t raise tuitions and have burgeoning loan debts” for international or domestic students.