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First Solar to invest $684 million in TN

To create 1,000 jobs with 600 going for women

String of investments proposed at Indo-Pacific Business Forum

WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (The CONNECT) - Arizona-based First Solar said it will invest $684 million in Tamil Nadu for a new, vertically integrated solar module manufacturing facility.  The investment is linked with creating more than 1,000 jobs, with an anticipated 60 percent of the employment going to women. 

This is one of the major announcements made during the two-day virtual fourth annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) that ended on Friday. This was the first time this event has been co-hosted in South Asia. 

More than 2,300 business and government leaders from the United States, India, economies of the Indo-Pacific region, and countries around the world participated.  The 2021 Indo-Pacific Business Forum provided the opportunity for business executives and government leaders to forge connections, learn about industry, regulatory, and policy trends, and explore new ways to contribute to regional and global economic recovery.  The key themes for the Forum were economic recovery and resilience; climate action; and digital innovation.

The IPBF advances the United States’ vision for an open, interconnected, resilient, and secure Indo-Pacific region.  As the premier annual U.S. government-sponsored commercial diplomacy event for the region, the Forum facilitates business, government, and civil society participants in building connections and partnerships, exchanging best practices, and stimulating innovative thinking.  It showcases high-impact government and private sector activities to support pandemic recovery, job growth, and high-standard development for greater prosperity and economic inclusion in the Indo-Pacific.

The Department of State said that participating U.S. and partner nation officials, and executives representing businesses operating in the Indo-Pacific region, highlighted a wide range of commercial deals and new initiatives, including:

  • U.S. firm Bentley Systems announced a $1 billion acquisition and partnership with New Zealand-based Seequent, a global leader in 3D modeling software for the geosciences.  The deal will facilitate collaboration of software solutions between two groundbreaking infrastructure companies.
  • FedEx built a new $30 million express air cargo gateway at Clark International Airport in the Philippines.  The opening of the Clark gateway facility marks the 37th anniversary of FedEx in the Philippines.  FedEx will employ more than 900 team members at Clark.
  • Amazon Web Services announced the opening of a Cloud Region in New Zealand, valued as a $5.25 billion investment.  The cloud center is expected to create 1,000 jobs and boost the country’s digital economy.
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced $49 million for the South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP).  This initiative will improve access to affordable, secure, reliable, and sustainable energy in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka – strengthening systems and processes in line with these countries’ economic and energy-security priorities.
  • The Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will make an equity investment in a Nepal-based private equity fund focused on small and medium enterprises.  The fund is targeted to reach $75 million in commitments for investment in portfolio companies in Nepal.  This project marks the DFC’s first investment in Nepal.
  • DFC is also providing a $50 million loan to Northern Arc Capital to expand its loan portfolio with a focus on loans for women-owned businesses and food security in India.  The loan is part of a co-financing with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which will also provide a $50 million loan.
  • A U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) feasibility study will help develop four utility-scale solar generation plants in collaboration with the Rural Electrification Finance Corporation in the Philippines.
  • USTDA is helping Vietnam’s Ecotek Corporation transform its Ecopark Township into a cutting-edge smart and sustainable city through technical assistance that will develop a project implementation roadmap. 

New U.S. and Partner Efforts to Advance an Open, Interconnected, Resilient, and Secure Indo-Pacific

  • The United States and Japan affirmed their shared commitment to support countries in the Indo-Pacific and around the world in their transition to clean energy while maintaining energy security and sustainable growth through a new Japan-U.S. Clean Energy Partnership (JUCEP).  The United States and Japan will collaborate to address climate change; support competitive energy markets; facilitate universal access to affordable, clean, and reliable energy; and engage Indo-Pacific and other partners to encourage rapid deployment of clean energy.
  • In Indonesia, USAID is investing $71.7 million over five years to support the country’s fight against the global climate crisis.  Subject to availability of funds, this new support will launch two new projects — the Sustainable Environmental Governance Across Regions (SEGAR) project and the Sustainable Energy for Indonesia’s Advancing Resilience (SINAR).  Efforts under these new programs will help the country adopt greater renewable energy use and lower greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen efforts to achieve inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.
  • In the Philippines, USAID announced $82.4 million for three new projects that will promote interconnectedness and resilience.  The Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) activity will promote an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable internet by working with government partners and leading industry partners — including the American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council — to improve the country’s ICT infrastructure, promote cybersecurity awareness, and bolster ICT protections.  The Climate Resilient Cities project will help cities in the Philippines adapt to, mitigate, and endure the impacts of climate change by increasing their access to climate financing and tools to build resilience, and the Energy Secure Philippines flagship project will promote the country’s key energy sector priorities and support its climate mitigation goals.
  • USTDA announced a call for aviation proposals to support new aviation infrastructure in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.  Interested U.S. firms and Southeast Asian and Pacific Island aviation stakeholders are encouraged to submit initial proposals for feasibility studies, technical assistance and pilot projects to develop airport, airspace, airline and other aviation infrastructure to USTDA by January 10, 2022.

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