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Five years after Africa was centerstage at a meeting of the G7 heads of state in Gleneagles, it has all but vanished from the priorities of policymakers from the rich and emerging economies. At the G20 Summit in London this week, heads of state will debate new resources for the IMF, in the range of $250 billion. But these resources will likely be deposited in the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) facility, which will be far too expensive and out of reach of most African countries.
Last week, I sent a policy memo to the White House recommending they amend Presidential Policy Directive 1 (PPD-1) which sets out the organization and membership of the National Security Council, to add the USAID Administrator. Why? Three main reasons:
1. It puts real action to the Obama campaign pledge and, most recently its new Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy, to elevate development in U.S. national security and foreign policy.
Would a “Crisis Round” of trade talks launched at the London Summit next week be a useful mechanism for averting a further beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism? My colleague Arvind Subramanian and his frequent co-author, World Bank economist Aaditya Mattoo, think so. They argued for such a move in an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal Asia earlier this week (A Crisis Calls for a Crisis Round):
As part of CGD’s efforts to track the impact of the financial crisis, I have been leading a series of conference calls to discuss how recent policy responses—or the lack thereof—may affect poor people in the developing world. Our latest call on the prospects for Russia suggests that the government could—and should—do more.
There’s a lot to like in UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call yesterday for the heads of heads of state attending the April 2 London Summit to commit to new measures to help developing countries cope with the global economic crisis. According to an interview reported in today’s Financial Times:
Countries importing Chinese goods should be responsible for the heat-trapping gases released during manufacturing, a top Chinese official said yesterday…. "As one of the developing countries, we are at the low end of the production line for the global economy. We produce products, and these products are consumed by other countries.... This share of emissions should be taken by the consumers, but not the producers."
A friend who works in Wall Street was livid upon learning about the U.S. House of Representatives’ move to tax the controversial AIG bonuses at 90 percent. My friend—who is from Latin America and does not work at AIG—said that it looks like the United States is turning into Argentina. He was referring to last year when, in the midst of the commodity boom, the Argentine government attempted to raise the tax rate on the additional profits to around 90 percent and to increase its access to resources it nationalized the private pension plans.
Last month I blogged a New York Timesinterview with Dambisa Moyo, whom the paper aptly dubbed the "Anti-Bono." A youngish woman who grew up in Zambia and holds degrees from Harvard and Oxford, she launches a frontal assault on foreign assistance in her new book, Dead Aid. For her, ODA is DOA.
Anne Applebaum’s op-ed today is a reminder that just having a new U.S. administration with a boatload of goodwill won’t necessarily deal with underlying policy differences in our foreign relations, hokey plastic “reset” buttons aside. Applebaum was referring to Russia, but this seems to apply equally to South Africa.
An open letter to President Obama and congressional leaders on the importance of global development and foreign assistance reform was published in Politico last week on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) and signed by more than 150 influential individuals and organizations. The letter says, in part: