The U.S.-based Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will help Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to promote prosperity through a new partnership with a Taiwan government-funded agency, the head of OPIC said Thursday.
OPIC Acting President and CEO David Bohigian said that for the last 50 years, the institution, which mobilises private capital to help solve critical development challenges around the globe, has invested approximately US$17 billion in the Indo-Pacific region in areas of agriculture, major infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises, and projects that empower women.
Earlier this year, OPIC joined hands with the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF), a Taiwan government-funded agency that runs the country’s foreign aid programs, to support Paraguay’s Banco Regional and provide lending services to under-served clients, especially women, in Paraguay, Bohigian said.
“This is our first investment ever with ICDF, an important signal of our cooperation,” he noted.
During his ongoing visit to Taiwan, Bohigian said he met with ICDF representatives earlier in the day to reaffirm the commitment and look into further cooperation around the the world.
“This relationship shows that the United States values nations that have relations with Taiwan. It also underscores our shared values,” he said.
Asked what other projects his institute and ICDF will be working on in the future, Bohigian said OPIC is looking for projects in Haiti and St. Lucia, and also has teams in Nicaragua, Tuvalu, Honduras and Guatemala, all of which are Taiwan’s diplomatic allies.
“They recognise Taiwan, and those countries are priorities for our partnership with ICDF,” he said.
Bohigian’s visit comes as OPIC prepares to transform into a new agency called the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in October 2019.
Equipped with a more-than doubled investment cap of US$60 billion and new tools such as equity authority, DFC will have more resources to invest in priority regions like the Indo-Pacific.
Foreign media had previously said the transformed OPIC is part of the Trump administration’s counter-measure to China’s “One Belt One Road Initiative,” a global initiative launched in 2013 involving infrastructure development and investment in 152 countries and international organisations. Critics of the Chinese initiative said it creates debt traps.
Asked to comment, Bohigian did not directly confirm or deny the allegation, saying only that those countries who are looking to develop their economies have to make sure they are looking for “win-win deals” rather than “winner takes all” ones.
The investments OPIC make will not put the countries in which it invests in financial difficulty, he said.
These projects will also employ workers in their host countries, and will have “strong transparency and anti-corruption measures in place.”
“We also look to protect the environment and make sure these products are built to last generations,” he added. Bohigian was scheduled to conclude his brief Taiwan trip later in the day.