Fourteen US companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Visa Inc. each pledged to provide at least 500,000 digital training and education opportunities for women and girls in the Indo-Pacific region as part of a Biden administration initiative.
The program, undertaken within the broader 14-nation Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), is focused on Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
The IPEF Upskilling Initiative, which will provide 7 million training opportunities in total over the next decade, was unveiled Thursday by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai as they host a two-day meeting of the Asian nations in Los Angeles.
The plan is designed to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, while advancing competitiveness in the region, they said.
Other companies involved in the initiative are American Tower Corp.; Apple Inc.; Cisco Systems Inc.; Dell Technologies Inc.; public-relations firm Edelman; Google, which is part of Alphabet Inc.; HP Inc.; International Business Machines Corp.; Mastercard Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; PayPal Holdings Inc.; Salesforce Inc.; and Visa Inc.
Focus on emerging, middle-income economies
The initiative, undertaken with The Asia Foundation, a nonprofit development organisation, is focused on the emerging economies and middle-income countries in IPEF, which also includes rich countries such as Japan, South Korean, Australia and Singapore.
"I have heard loudly and clearly from the region, particularly in the developing countries, 'We need concrete benefits, tangible economic benefits,'" Raimondo said at the launch of the initiative on Thursday.
"I hear that and I promise you the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework will deliver tangible economic benefits to your countries."
The commerce chief added that she is hopeful more companies will join the initiative, and that it will expand beyond 14 countries.
The contribution of this initiative has the potential to be "immeasurably valuable" and have a lasting impact, Fijian Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya said at the event
The plan will bolster US private-sector engagement in the fast-growing region in ways that pay long-term dividends for the companies and workers in both the US and its partner countries, Commerce and USTR said in statement announcing the strategy. The departments declined to disclose the value of the investments.
It also will support the region's work to strengthen economic resilience, equity, inclusion and sustainability to help expand the middle class, as well as export opportunities for US goods and services and regional trade and investment, the agencies said.
Finally, by facilitating training in areas such as data, cloud and cyber-security work, the approach will allow IPEF countries to promote cross-border data flows and online privacy, as well as combat disinformation, corruption and cyber-theft, according to the Biden administration.