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CGD in the News

Obama Seeks Closer Africa Ties as China Is First Choice (Bloomberg)


“We build airplanes and the Chinese do road construction,” said Todd Moss, a former State Department official who is a senior fellow specializing in U.S.-Africa relations at the Center for Global Development in Washington. “It’s not like we’re regularly going head-to-head.”

A Solution for the WTO (Business Standard)


Read the article hereIndia is threatening to block the World Trade Organization (WTO)'s trade facilitation agreement (TFA) reached at Bali last year unless its agricultural policies are permanently excluded from multilateral scrutiny. Is the objective - on agriculture - valid? Are the tactics - blocking Bali - sensible?

The Pentagon Overpays for Almost Everything—Even Prescription Drugs (Bloomberg Businessweek)


Britain’s Farnborough Air Show wrapped up last week after seven ear-splitting days. To impress the excited kids and jaded dealers in attendance, the U.S. sent an F-8, an F-15, and a pair of F-16s. But the much anticipated F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter was a no-show. After a runway fire grounded the fleet earlier this month, the Department of Defense suspended negotiations to purchase the next batch of the planes.

The troubled fighter is only the latest in a long and growing number of cases where the DOD has bought poorly designed and massively overpriced equipment for the nation’s armed forces. Across the military, the average major Pentagon acquisition comes in at 40 percent over budget, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. In spite of the Pentagon’s well-documented history of profligacy, the Congress continues to enlarge its responsibilities. The DOD’s mandate now includes wide-ranging scientific and medical research and international infrastructure projects, diffusing the focus on its core mission—like buying planes that don’t set themselves afire on the runway. That’s a disservice to America’s military and a burden to the country’s taxpayers.

Energize Africa (Voice of America)


Leo: "Power by all accounts is one of the most binding constraints for growth and economic opps in Sub Saharan Africa. You look at all the different statistics, the figures, the surveys, and it's at the very top of the list." [0:55]


Leo: "By taking this approach [of expanding Power Africa], you can address an African concern, promote U.S. business and African business and do all of this at no cost to taxpayers. I think that's one of the major reasons that we're seeing bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for this legislation. Obama's initiative is focused on six countries, which is a great start. The Energize Africa bill really focuses in on this issue to make sure that whatever the executive branch is doing, they factor this in in a major way, so I think that's a big contribution. So it's a good start, and we'll have to keep a close eye on it to see where ultimately things go out." [2:41]

US, Canada to Oppose World Bank’s Aid Projects in Russia (Bloomberg)


While Canada and the U.S. account for about one-fifth of votes at the 188-member institution, their opposition would be enough to delay loans, said Scott Morris, a former deputy assistant secretary for development finance and debt at the Treasury in Washington. If European Union countries follow the U.S., the bank’s largest shareholder, projects could end up not being presented to the board, he said.

“If they informally took a poll of their shareholders and understood that the balance weighed toward opposition, it’s very unlikely the bank management would proceed to bring something to the board and watch it be rejected,” Morris said. “This is a very difficult thing for the president of the World Bank to navigate.”

The World's Fastest-Growing Economies Won't Be Scary Unless They Slow Down (Bloomberg Businessweek)


As Brazilians were recovering last week from the World Cup, the country held another global event: the BRICS summit, a gathering of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The outcome was no doubt more pleasing to Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff than her country’s soccer performance. The countries agreed to set up a $50 billion “BRICS bank” to invest in development projects in the developing world, alongside a $100 billion pool of reserve currencies earmarked as “a kind of mini-IMF,” according to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. It was a strong statement of the grouping’s growing global economic heft and a challenge to the order established by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Some in the West have perceived that challenge as a threat. The U.S. has veto power over major decisions at the International Monetary Fund. Without European or American backing, it is almost impossible to get a loan through the World Bank. The North Atlantic powers will have no such say in the operations of the BRICS bank, another sign that the global balance of economic and financial power is shifting.

Fibre Production Drives Deforestation in Indonesia (Nature)


Frances Seymour, a forest-policy researcher at the Center for Global Development, an independent research institute in Washington DC, applauds the latest wave of commitments to stop deforestation from companies such as Wilmar International — the world’s largest palm-oil company. Pressure should be applied to those companies that have not yet made such commitments, such as Asia Pacific Resources International — Indonesia’s second-largest pulp and paper producer, she says.

Seymour, former head of the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, Indonesia, calls on the incoming Indonesian president, who is expected to be confirmed later this month, to honour the commitments to halting forest loss made by the outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Indonesia’s rise to become the world’s top deforesting nation should help to “force the attention of the new administration” to the problem, she says.

U.S. Debating “Historic” Support for Off-Grid Electricity in Africa (Inter Press Service)


“The overwhelming majority of the African leaders are going to be coming to Washington [for the U.S.-Africa Summit] emphasising trade and investment, and in that context this issue is very central to their many constituencies – touching on economic, political and social issues,” Ben Leo, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a think tank here, told IPS.

“Coming forward with something concrete that will lead to additional capital, tools or engagement will be noticed and welcomed. But lack thereof would also have a message for African leaders and others travelling to Washington.”

Coke Brothers (Foreign Policy)


"No doubt the BRICS will take a more flexible stance, certainly in their energy strategies, when it comes to fossil fuels," said Scott Morris, an expert on international financial institutions at the Center for Global Development.

And although that's exactly what people concerned about rising global emissions of greenhouse gases and temperatures don't want to see, it may not be the environmental cataclysm they envision.

Malaysian Flight's Toll: A Voice for Simpler AIDS Treatment (Bloomberg Businessweek)


Many of the people who died in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 were on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, where they could have celebrated this bit of good news: For the first time last year more people worldwide were put on antiretroviral drugs that treat HIV than were newly infected from the disease. Some 2.3 million people were put on the life-saving treatments, compared to 2.1 million new infections.

Many on that flight had played a role in that progress, including Dr. Joep Lange, a Dutch professor who had spent decades in research and advocacy around getting more people in the developing world on antiretroviral medication.