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​U.S. looks to infrastructure investment to boost economy

Xinhua Financein WASHINGTON
2018-11-14 14:29

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The United States is working on a multi-pronged infrastructure plan -- one that involves improving the nation's aging roads, bridges and airports, as well as increasing energy exports -- to further boost economic growth, senior U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC news channel that Washington is "looking at infrastructure in many different ways."

"I'd like to do energy infrastructure. I'd like to do pipeline," he said. "I'd like to do anything that will help LNG, terminals, shipping. We'd like to revise the U.S. shipping industry, which has been dormant for many years. We'd like to export oil, natural gas to Europe and to Asia."

Kudlow's remarks came as U.S. President Donald Trump signaled his willingness to reach across the aisle to congressional Democrats, who retook House majority in the 2018 midterm elections, for infrastructure investment legislation.

Both Trump and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic congresswoman widely expected to become House Speaker, have said the two parties are able to reach consensus on a potential infrastructure package.

One key element in the U.S. want list, as Kudlow has highlighted, is increasing U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, especially to Europe. "They want LNG, they want it badly, and we're going to do everything we can to accommodate them," Kudlow said.

The Trump administration has long been urging European Union (EU) member states to buy more LNG from the United States.

In particular, Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Germany's reliance on natural gas originating from Russia, at one time accusing Berlin of becoming "totally dependent on Russian energy," while criticizing it on another occasion for being a "captive" to Moscow.

At a meeting with Trump in July in Washington, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU will build more terminals to import LNG, a pledge on which he didn't elaborate, and which experts viewed as a gesture to Washington in exchange for a temporary detente in bilateral trade disputes.

At home, Trump's 200-billion-U.S.-dollar federal fund, which he proposed in February to underpin a grand infrastructure scheme worth 1.5 trillion dollars in total, has faced sustained filibusters in Congress and gone nowhere.

What lies at the center of the infrastructure blueprint is where to solicit funding. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross addressed this concern in a speech at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in Washington on Tuesday.

"As you know, the president is very keen to have an infrastructure program, and the only real issue is how do you pay for it. How much does the federal government do, how much is done by the private sector," Ross said.

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suggested Thursday that Trump raise the federal gas tax, which has remained static since 1993, but that may add burdens to middle- and working-class Americans.
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