In September 2008 official aid donors and recipients will meet in Accra, Ghana, to discuss how to make development assistance more effective. CGD president Nancy Birdsall and co-author Kate Vyborny suggest that advocates of better aid who really want a win at Accra forget haggling over broad conceptual issues and focus instead on getting a public commitment from donors to one or more very concrete steps to improve aid effectiveness and to hold donors accountable.
Unlike East Asia and Europe, Latin America lacks a shared integration strategy and continues to struggle with a burdensome investment climate. In this new CGD Note, visiting fellow Nancy Lee suggests a fresh approach to regional integration in the form of a proposed regional investment agreement. The idea is a collective effort to set common standards for reducing specific barriers to domestic and foreign investment. Beyond its benefits for growth, such an agreement could boost the incomes of the poor by helping small businesses trapped in the informal sector move into the more productive formal sector.
The loss of rice production in Myanmar is worsening the crisis in world rice markets, where prices have trebled this year. Meanwhile, Japan has 1.5 million tons of surplus rice, most of it imported from the U.S. Releasing this rice to global markets would prick a speculative bubble and bring rice prices down fast, while also encouraging China and Thailand to release their surplus stocks. But first Washington must lift its objections and Japan must decide to re-export rice that it imported from the U.S., Thailand, and Vietnam. Failure to act would mean that high-quality U.S. rice would be fed to Japanese pigs and chickens while millions of poor people suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Tom Slayton, a former editor of The Rice Trader, and Peter Timmer, CGD non-resident fellow and visiting professor at Stanford University, explain how prompt action could prevent the rice price crisis from becoming a hunger crisis.
With President Bush's trip to Africa making headlines this week, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet and research assistant Sami Bazzi offer a close look at the latest U.S. foreign assistance numbers. Bottom line: although America's aid has more than doubled since 2000, the new money went mostly to Iraq, Afghanistan and a small number of debt relief operations; and almost all was allocated through bilateral rather than multilateral channels. Assistance to Africa more than quadrupled from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $6.6 billion in 2006 and has been enormously important in funding humanitarian relief and HIV/AIDS programs. But even with the increases, U.S. assistance to Africa still averages less than $9 per African per year. And U.S. assistance for Africa has become less selective: since 2000 the shares going to the poorest countries and to the best-governed countries have fallen.
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provides more than $5 billion per year to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. Exactly how is that money spent? Donors, recipients, and even PEPFAR staff are often left guessing, because much of the extensive data the U.S. government collects on the program isn't released. In this new CGD note, Michael Bernstein and Sarah Jane Staats (Hise) urge the U.S. Congress to require that PEPFAR regularly release this data. They argue that this would improve coordination between PEPFAR and other donors, help PEPFAR staff assess progress and hold recipients accountable, and increase cost-effectiveness. Some of the data will soon be available anyway: CGD's HIV/AIDS Monitor is preparing to release PEPFAR funding data for Fiscal Years 2004-2006 obtained by a partner organization through a Freedom of Information Act request.
A White House conference on social justice in Latin America this week may signal a shift to U.S. engagement with the region that goes beyond security, free trade, and anti-narcotics efforts. CGD president Nancy Birdsall and Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, suggest seven ways that the U.S. could more effectively support Latin American efforts to address persistent inequality--starting with a more effective approach on trade and drugs.
Will the Poor Be Flooded Out? The IPCC's Predicted Flood Disasters and Their Implications for Development Aid
The April 5, 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report predicts that droughts and floods will become more frequent and severe as a result of global warming. In this CGD Note senior fellow David Wheeler shows that citizens of poor countries are much more likely than citizens in rich countries to suffer homelessness, injury and death from flood. He urges the international community to help low-income countries develop stronger protective institutions, greater resources for flood protection, and affordable insurance.
Core labor standards--an end to forced and child labor, nondiscrimination, and respect for workers' right to organize--are important for sharing the benefits of globalization. But how to enforce them remains contentious. In this CGD Note, senior fellow Kimberly Elliott says that U.S. policy should focus on domestic issues, such as ensuring that U.S. workers have adequate safety nets, and international issues, such as assisting countries in improving compliance with labor standards. The U.S should leave the details of labor laws to national governments, with monitoring by the International Labor Organization.
U.S. aid to Africa soared during President Bush's first term, to more than twice the level of any previous administration. But the newly divided government--Democratic Congress, Republican White House--could mean a cut in aid. In this CGD Note senior fellow Todd Moss uses just-released data from the first term of the Bush administration to explore patterns in U.S. official development assistance. He finds that aid to Africa is higher when the same party controls both the White House and Congress and that an all-Republican government gives more aid than an all-Democratic one.
Read Moss' 2003 Surprise Party working paper
Although many countries must share responsibility for the negotiating stalemate in the Doha Round of trade negotiations, the proximate cause of the talks' collapse last summer was the U.S. refusal to offer additional reductions in agricultural subsidies. In this CGD Note, senior fellow Kimberly Elliott discusses concessions the U.S. and other rich countries must make to save the Round, particularly reductions in agricultural subsidies and lowering barriers to imports of agricultural goods. Overcoming the impasse is crucial for developing countries: failure would deny them opportunities for job creation and growth that increased trade would provide, and would contribute to erosion of the multilateral, rules-based system that protects small, weak countries from discrimination by the powerful.
Diamonds, long seen as symbols of love and prosperity, are now blamed for war and corruption in some of the poorest places on earth. But do all diamonds fuel conflict and strife? In this CGD Note program associate Kaysie Brown and senior fellow Todd Moss consider the strengths and limitations of industry efforts to break the deadly link between diamonds and conflict, most notably through the Kimberley Process, which certifies that a diamond has been obtained legitimately. They find that the Kimberley Process, which has helped turn conflict diamonds into development diamonds, is a good thing but it could be even better. They also offer consumers tips on how to buy conflict-free diamonds.
China's bid for a leading role in Africa gained sudden visibility on the weekend with an unprecedented gathering of leaders from 48 African countries in Beijing. Chinese president Hu Jintao pledged to double aid and to offer $5 billion in loans by 2009. China's newly high-profile overtures towards Africa have raised eyebrows—and a fair bit of anxiety—among Africa’s traditional development partners. Will Chinese lending lead to a new African debt crisis? In a new CGD Note, senior fellow Todd Moss and research assistant Sarah Rose examine the growing clout of a little-known instrument of China's Africa policy, the Export-Import Bank of China, and offer some advice for the West. Learn more
In this CGD Note, CGD vice president Dennis de Tray and senior fellow Todd Moss argue that international financial institutions should transform their boards of resident executive directors into non-resident, non-executive bodies. Doing so would force the governing bodies to focus on their core responsibilities, increase accountability and reduce costs of all kinds. They urge the African Development Bank to go first. Learn more
The Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa was launched in June to help Africa tackle problems that hinder domestic and foreign investment. It aims to raise $550 million for promotion of property rights and financial markets, anti-corruption efforts, and reform of regulations, taxation, and customs. In this CGD Note, senior fellow Todd Moss lists the strengths of the proposal and asks tough questions, including: What exactly will the money be spent on? Why no independent evaluation? He concludes that the U.S. should support the facility--if convincing answers are forthcoming. Learn more
CGD program director Ruth Levine argues that independent impact evaluation of anti-corruption programs will be crucial to the success of the new World Bank campaign against corruption. As corruption-fighting programs are put into place, she writes, donor and recipient countries should request and fund careful, credible and independent third party evaluations—then publish the results whether or not they make the funders and implementers look good. Learn More
The ninth negotiating round, named the "Doha" Round for the city in Qatar where it was launched, has proven to be unique, because many developing countries are flexing their political muscle as never before. As a result, the Doha Round seems destined to fail unless rich countries cut the trade barriers that hurt developing countries most: those in agriculture.
Are we doing well by doing good?
This CGD Note by C. Peter Timmer explores the alliance between US farmers, processors and shippers that forms the political foundation of the US food aid program. The Note outlines the current winners and losers of US food aid, and argues that surprisingly, the recipients are most often the losers.
Zimbabwe is in a state of virtual economic collapse. It faces grave public health concerns and even basic services have stalled. A new CGD Note by Todd Moss and Stewart Patrick urges the international community to begin planning now for the narrow window of opportunity a post-Mugabe transition will provide.