Moving beyond grants: Questions about Australian infrastructure financing for the Pacific

By Stephen Howes and Matthew Dornan

February 2019

Over its more than 40 years of existence, Australian official financing for development has been provided nearly entirely in grants, through the foreign aid program.

Last year, a major break with the past was signalled by Morrison’s 8 November 2018 Townsville speech “Australia and the Pacific: a new chapter.”

The speech, written to respond to a perception that Australia was being outmuscled by China in the Pacific, announced two major new initiatives. The first was the creation of the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP), costed at $2 billion, which will “use grant funding combined with long term loans to support high priority infrastructure development.” The second was an increased role for Efic, Australia’s export credit agency: “an extra $1 billion in callable capital and a new more flexible infrastructure financing power.”

In this report, we provide background to and understanding of these announcements, as well as an initial assessment of their implications.

Howes, H. & Dornan, M. 2019, ‘Moving beyond grants: Questions about Australian infrastructure financing for the Pacific’, Report, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University.

Karen Downing

Karen Downing is Research Communications Coordinator at the Development Policy Centre.