Ideas to Action:

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US Development Policy


During Elizabeth Littlefield’s confirmation hearing last week, she said the mission of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) had been her own for much of her career.  If confirmed as the next president of OPIC, Littlefield will bring an important private sector voice to Obama’s development table.  (Meanwhile, we are still waiting for movement on Lael Brainard who was nominated almost a year ago to become undersecretary for international affairs at Treasury—a position critically important for issues related to the global financial crisis and our interactions with the G8, G20, etc.)

Littlefield spoke of OPIC’s role within the broader U.S. development apparatus:

I have seen how skillfully-deployed foreign investments provide not only jobs, but also hope and stability in poor countries. And I have seen the crucial role that well-administered government assistance from developed countries can play in making both of these things happen. Today OPIC’s work is the nexus of just this kind of U.S. development assistance.

If confirmed, I hope to be able to enhance the agency’s role as an instrument of foreign policy, creating synergies and boosting effectiveness in energetic partnerships with the State Department, USAID and other development agencies. OPIC complements the work of others in being able to respond rapidly, catalyze private investment, and do so while supporting U.S. jobs.

She told the committee that private sector investment “is crucial if poorer nations are to build the kind of infrastructure and markets that will allow their people to prosper and contribute to the prosperity and security of other nations.”

Carolyn Radelet, wife of former CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet and member of a four-generation Peace Corps family, testified alongside Littlefield as part of her own confirmation process to become deputy director of the Peace Corps.  If confirmed, Littlefield and Radelet can help ensure that private sector investment and innovation and the spirit of volunteerism are reflected as key parts of our development apparatus.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.