State Department Asks Asia to Open Energy Trade in Midst of Tariff Fight

(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. State Department official called on Asia’s energy sector to open its doors to outside competition, even as tensions between Washington and Beijing escalate.

Asia is home to the fastest-growing natural gas demand in the world, with China expected to soak up much of the shale supply U.S. companies are set to export over the next five years. To get those volumes to consumers, countries in the Indo-Pacific will need to invest in new supply contracts and expand their domestic infrastructure, Francis Fannon, assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, said at the World Gas Conference in Washington.

“Such substantial investment needs will inevitably drive competition for projects and contracts,” he told a panel. “The United States remains resolute in the stance that this competition must be guided by open trade, where economies can compete on the basis of the quality of the goods and services, not the level of pressure or coercion governments are capable of inflicting.”

President Donald Trump has threatened tens of billions of dollars of tariffs against China, with Beijing retaliating with measures of its own. Some U.S. companies have said the spat risks deterring Chinese investment in U.S. liquefied natural gas and other fuels.

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