U.S. Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach.  Credit: Three Seas / Arno Mikkor

The United States has agreed to pledge up to $1 billion to the Three Seas Initiative (3SI), Keith Krach, the Trump administration’s Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, announced at the Three Seas Virtual Summit in Tallinn on Monday.

Speaking at the Smart Money forum portion of the Three Seas Summit, moderated by Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, Krach said that the U.S. would match 30 percent of the combined contribution of all twelve 3SI participating nations, to a maximum of $1 billion.

In other words, if the 12 nations stumped up around $3.4 billion, including in money amassed via private sector investment, the U.S. would put in $1 billion in return.

"The more each country invests, the more we invest," Krach said. His remarks followed a pledge by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also in Tallinn, made at a closed-doors session earlier in the day.

Smart money refers to the effective use of both funds put up by Three Seas participating and partner nations and those garnered from investment on a global scale and aimed at making Three Seas Initiative (3SI) projects a reality.

The main target spheres are transport, energy and digital infrastructures, and the 3SI aims to alleviate what is by some estimates a shortfall in investment of over €1 trillion in comparison with the 3SI countries’ western EU neighbors.

A year ago, only Poland and Romania, from among the 12 participating states, had put money in the pot. As of Monday that number had grown to nine, as Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovenia and Croatia join Estonia, Poland and Romania. The fund now currently stands at €913 million.

Keith Krach also placed the 3SI approach, as a democratically-led initiative among like-minded countries, in stark contrast with China's stance, which he said had been doing little short of holding countries to ransom in its debt-trap approach to investing overseas.

Moderator Urmas Reinsalu also said that Estonia’s hosting of the 3SI this year had been a success, and had been the result of teamwork among all participating nations.

"I am proud to say that we have managed to achieve all the deliverables, with your help,“ Reinsalu noted.

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic had not hindered this and in fact had made even more apparent the value of the 3SI approach, he said.

Another contributing nation is Poland, as noted one of the original two investors in the 3SI along. Beata Daszynska-Muzyczka, President of Polish State Development Bank and also chair of the 3SI Investment Fund (3SIIF) supervisory board, used the Smart Money forum to announce her organisation’s decision to grant an additional investment of €250 million to the 3SIIF. 

Latvian Prime Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, along with government ministers from Three Seas nations Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, Romania and Croatia also took part in the panel discussion, which Urmas Reinsalu heralded as particularly noteworthy following the U.S. and Polish announcements.

"This is truly great news which opens up a new chapter in the 3SI," Reinsalu said.

The 3SIIF is being managed by London-based investors Amber Infrastructure.

Amber, whose CEO Gavin Tait also took part in the Smart Money forum, has been managers of fund since March 2020, and has itself put up €10 million to the 3SIIF, Tait announced at the Smart Money forum.

The full agenda of the Three Seas Virtual Summit is here. The live broadcast is here.