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Foreign Assistance: Agencies Allocated $8.4 Billion Congressionally Directed Funds to Advance U.S. Goals in the Indo-Pacific Region

GAO-24-106371 Published: Jan 18, 2024. Publicly Released: Jan 18, 2024.
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Fast Facts

Congress passed the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act in December 2018 to advance U.S. policy interests and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region. This Q&A report includes information on the act.

Under this act, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development allocated $6.6 billion to the region during FYs 2019-2022—largely to support activities in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

For instance, these funds helped improve birthing facilities in Bangladesh. They also supported natural resources management in the Philippines and helped analyze the effects of Vietnam's Social Health Insurance policies.

State and USAID Distribution of Asia Reassurance Initiative Act Funds, FYs 2019-2022

a pie chart showing the percentage of funds distributed to different areas including 28% to health, 26% to economic growth, and more.

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What GAO Found

In December of 2018, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA). ARIA’s stated purpose was to advance U.S. policy interests and American influence in the Indo-Pacific region as well as to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region. ARIA’s principles are aligned with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) that also drives the security, economic, and democratic activities the U.S. undertakes in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Department of State and USAID allocated approximately $8.4 billion in ARIA/IPS congressionally directed funds to support ARIA and IPS related efforts for Indo-Pacific region from FY 2019 through FY 2023. Specifically, from FY 2019 through FY 2022, three-quarters of ARIA/IPS directed funds were allocated to support activities under three U.S. government-wide foreign assistance funding categories of health, economic growth, and peace and security across the region. According to State officials, these government-wide foreign assistance funding categories generally align with all three core principles of ARIA: promote U.S. security interests, promote U.S. economic interests, and promote U.S. democratic values in the Indo-Pacific region. See figure for a map of the locations included in this region.

Indo-Pacific Region Locations for which Asia Reassurance Initiative Act/Indo-Pacific Strategy Directed Funds Were Allocated for Efforts in Fiscal Years 2019–2023

From FY 2019 through FY 2022, State and USAID allocated $6.6 billion of this funding, largely to support activities associated with Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Vietnam. For example:

  • In Bangladesh funds support activities to improve facilities for birth deliveries,
  • In the Philippines funds support activities for the formation of partnerships to support biodiversity conservation, natural resources management, sustainable landscapes, sustainable supply chains, and safeguards,
  • In Vietnam funds support activities for the analysis of the impacts of Vietnam’s Social Health Insurance policies on patient visits at different health care levels.

For FY 2023, State and USAID estimated allocating an additional $1.8 billion of ARIA/IPS directed funds, with activities in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Vietnam once again receiving the most funding.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Indo-Pacific region is home to more than 50 percent of the global population, nearly two-thirds of the world’s economy, and seven of the world’s largest militaries. The U.S. has long recognized the Indo-Pacific region as vital to its security and prosperity.

GAO was asked to provide information on the amount of funds that State and USAID allocated for the implementation of ARIA, including information on the types of activities supported and for which countries, for fiscal years 2019 through 2023. GAO collected and analyzed funding data from State and USAID for FY 2019 through FY 2023, reviewed agency documents, and interviewed agency officials.

For more information, contact Latesha Love-Grayer at (202) 512-4409 or

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