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Vijaya Ramachandran is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. She works on the impact of the business environment on the productivity of firms in developing countries, and is the coauthor of an essay titled "Development as Diffusion: Manufacturing Productivity and Africa's Missing Middle,” published in the Oxford Handbook on Economics and Africa. Vijaya is also studying the unintended consequences of rich countries’ anti-money laundering policies on financial inclusion in poor countries. She has published her research in journals such as World Development, Development Policy Review, Governance, Prism, and AIDS and is the author of a CGD book, Africa’s Private Sector: What’s Wrong with the Business Environment and What to Do About It. Prior to joining CGD, Vijaya worked at the World Bank and in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. She also served on the faculties of Georgetown University and Duke University. Her work has appeared in several media outlets including the Economist, Financial Times, Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, National Public Radio, and Vox.
Today, President Bush called on Congress to provide another $770 million in food aid, in addition to the $200 million already allocated through the Department of Agriculture,in order "to keep our existing food aid programs robust."
There is no doubt that these additional funds are much needed to purchase and distribute food to those who are suffering greatly from the current spike in food prices. But the U.S. can and should do more. Specifically, the U.S. must allow Japan to sell, at full cost on Japanese books, the 1.5
million metric tons of rice that it has in storage. About 600,000 tons is
Thai and Vietnamese long-grain rice (high quality) and the rest is US medium
grain (good rice). All of the rice is in Japanese warehouses because of an
agreement with the World Trade Organization, and the U.S. as "cognizant
observer" of the rice agreement, would need to approve the sale of both
US and the Thai/Vietnamese rice. Japan currently cannot release this rice
to the World Food Program (or to the world market) without permission from
the U.S., and the Bush administration is yet to move on this.
CGD senior fellow Vijaya Ramachandran argues in this essay that the next U.S. president can play a valuable role in helping Africa to overcome two crucial barriers to poverty reduction: lack of power and lack of roads. Ramachandran urges the next president to create a $1 billion Clean Energy Fund for Africa to facilitate the transfer of U.S. infrastructure technology, including renewable energy; and to encourage the World Bank and the African Development Bank to focus on cross-country regional infrastructure projects, also with a strong emphasis on clean technology. The essay is included in a forthcoming CGD volume: The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President.
International corporations interested in joining the fight against global poverty can choose from a wide range of options, according to a new CGD report released last week. The report, Joining the Fight Against Global Poverty: A Menu for Corporate Engagement, suggests six approaches for corporations to consider. Based on interviews with senior executives at 15 firms with global reach, it includes stories about what has worked (and what hasn't) and describes some of the advantages that companies have found in working for development.
This is a joint posting with Peter Timmer.
This past weekend, the New York Times published a provocative story titled "Ending Famine, Simply By Ignoring the Experts" (login required), about how Malawi has rescued itself from endless cycles of famine. The Times argued that Malawi accomplished this seemingly impossible goal by ignoring experts from the World Bank and rich-country aid organizations who have insisted that Malawi should cut back or eliminate its subsidies on fertilizer. But Malawi's newly elected president, Bingu wa Mutharika, did just the opposite--he reinstated and deepened the subsidies, which in turn increased yields and resulted in exports of corn to neighboring countries. Was the president right to do this?