Much like 2008, the world rice market seems destined for another price shock, with very aggressive buyin techniques by the Philippines fueling the run-up in prices.
CGD policy analyst Lindsay Morgan summarizes the global health agendas various organizations have recommended to the Obama administration. She finds that the calls for a smarter, more harmonized, results-based global health agenda are clear.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. President Barack Obama are both committed to boosting funding for global education. CGD visiting fellow Desmond Bermingham, the former head of the Education for All–Fast Track Initiative, offers suggestions about making the most of additional U.S. assistance for the two leaders to consider when they meet this week in the White House.
Five billion people in developing countries are innocent victims of the global economic crisis. How well they cope will be crucial to sustained global recovery. In this CGD Note, Nancy Birdsall estimates that developing countries may need $1 trillion for bank rescues, for fiscal stimulus, and to maintain their minimal social safety nets over the next couple of years. She then explains how these funds could be unlocked from existing resources.
Total U.S. development assistance has fallen 22 percent since 2005 from $27.9 billion to $21.8 billion in 2007. In real terms, this was the smallest amount since 2002, excluding assistance to Iraq, Afghanistan, and HIV/AIDS programs. Senior fellow Steve Radelet and his coauthors examine the decline, and ask whether President Bush's pledge to double assistance to Africa is likely to be realized or not.
Cell phones are transforming markets in low-income countries, especially in rural sub-Saharan Africa. In this CGD Note, post-doctoral fellow Jenny Aker documents the positive impact of cell phones in Niger, which the UN ranks as the world’s poorest country. Aker finds that phones are associated on average with a 20 percent reduction in grain price differences across markets — an effect that grows as cell phone coverage expands.
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