US Development Policy

CGD experts track US development policy and offer ideas and analysis to improve its impact on developing countries. Also check out our Views from the Center blog and Global Health Policy blog.

 

Congress Sets Course for Foreign Aid Spending through September

Congress has officially wrapped up the FY2017 appropriations process—a mere seven months behind schedule. Much has changed since last fall, including the rhetoric on US foreign aid spending from the sitting administration. And big questions have been swirling about whether the bipartisan consensus in Congress on the importance of effective foreign assistance will hold in this new environment. At least in very short term, the answer appears to be yes.

Ivanka Trump Spearheads New Fund for Women Entrepreneurs: Four Questions to Answer Before the Cheers

At a recent G20 dialogue in Berlin, Angela Merkel unveiled plans for a new fund—spearheaded by Ivanka Trump—to promote women’s entrepreneurship. But given that President Trump’s draft FY2018 budget proposes major cuts across development accounts, including on spending and activities central to women’s empowerment, there are significant questions to ask about what appears to be a major new development initiative championed by his Administration. Here are four core considerations.

Our First Peek at Trump’s Aid Budget: Big Changes, but Will Congress Play Along?

After months of speculation inside the foreign aid community, President Trump’s vision for development assistance is coming into clearer focus. Foreign Policy this week published a leaked copy of an Administration planning document on the FY2018 foreign aid budget request. The bottom line: less aid, done less effectively. Here are a few major takeaways from the document.

A No More Tiers Formula to Clean Up Corruption

A bipartisan group of eight Senators led by Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) has just reintroduced a new version of a bill designed to identify and combat corruption overseas. The Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017 ties some potentially useful anti-corruption measures to a less-than-useful exercise in corruption ranking that will blunt their impact. That’s a shame, but it also suggests an easy fix: junk the ranking.

Responding to Cambodia’s Request for Debt Cancellation

Cambodia’s Prime Minister and former Khmer Rouge commander Hun Sen has called on the Trump administration to cancel Cambodia’s debt to the US Government incurred by the Lon Nol regime in the 1970s. Because the loans, which were used to pay for food purchased from the United States, have not been serviced, the total amount owed is estimated to now be more than US$500 million. While the Trump administration may not immediately embrace Cambodia’s request, it is worth both sides considering the possibility of a deal.

Comments Needed: A Better Deal to Protect Americans’ Health under the Trump Administration

We would argue that investing in global health, at least along certain dimensions, is entirely consistent with President Trump’s philosophy of America First—a real opportunity for his administration to improve the security of the American people by pushing through some much-needed reform. In that spirit, we’ve put together a proposal for a new executive initiative under the Trump Administration. We call it PAHAA: Protecting America’s Health at Home and Abroad.

House Panel Finds Near Consensus against Foreign Aid Cuts

While we don’t often blog congressional hearings, yesterday’s discussion of “The Budget, Diplomacy, and Development” in the House Foreign Affairs Committee struck us as especially important given the uncertainty facing the foreign assistance budget: the level of consensus in acknowledging that deep cuts to the international affairs budget would be unwise and undermine US interests felt remarkable.

Congress Looks at World Bank, Asks How It Can Do Better

With big cuts to US bilateral and multilateral assistance looming, the House Committee on Financial Services convened a hearing to investigate accountability and results at the World Bank. Scott Morris, CGD’s director of the US Development Policy initiative (DPI), was joined by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Sasha Chavkin, CalTech’s Jean Ensminger, and BIC’s Elana Berger. It was a thoughtful conversation, with everyone on the panel agreeing that it is in the United States’ interest to continue engagement with the World Bank. Here are my main takeaways from the hearing.

Putting Foreign Aid Cuts in Context

Put funding for the 150 account in context, and you better understand the broader trend and two crucial points: (1) the 150 Account is a tiny slice of the federal budget, so proposed cuts will contribute little toward shoring up much larger accounts like national defense; and (2) increases in foreign assistance over the past sixteen years have supported US development efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and helped deliver on a historic US commitment to fight global HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa.   

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