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As the new US administration seeks to manage a large spike in migrants at the southern border, it has signaled plans to try to influence migrant decision-making in Central America through extensive public information campaigns.
Even before the Biden-Harris administration took office, they made clear that one of their top international priorities would be renewing the United States’ commitment to multilateralism. Within the international financial institutions (IFIs)—the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—as well as the United Nations, the US agenda over the next four years will be one of re-engaging with management and rebuilding coalitions with allied shareholders to advance priority issues and approaches. One of these priority areas will be improving the effectiveness of engagement in fragile states.
While the previous US administration sought to elevate some elements of women’s economic empowerment within development policy, a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests there is considerable room for improvement, specifically in USAID’s support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act, signed into law in early 2019, mandates that half of USAID’s investments in MSMEs target women-owned, managed, or controlled business and the very poor. But the GAO uncovered several issues that undermine USAID’s ability to determine how it has fared relative to this ambition.
When Congress created the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) through the BUILD Act in 2018, it gave the new agency authority to make equity investments in funds and firms in developing country markets, building on the traditional lending programs of DFCs’ predecessor agency, OPIC.
In March, the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) held its first board meeting of the Biden-Harris administration. At that meeting board members voted to approve just one project—a $300 million loan to expand a Brazilian bank’s lending portfolio to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The loan is notably focused on increasing lending to women borrowers, as well as those in underdeveloped regions of the country, making the new administration’s first board-approved DFC investment a 2X Initiative project—a promising starting point.
Governments, impact investors, and philanthropists are increasingly looking for innovative ways to address tricky development challenges. USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV)—which celebrated its 10-year anniversary last year—was set up to do just that.
Last week President Biden announced sweeping measures to reengage the US government in the fight against climate change. With US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry suggesting the need for “humility and ambition,” we suggest five ways for the new US administration to be more ambitious on the international stage.
President-elect Biden has stated his intention to rebuild values-based alliances and reassert the United States’ role in promoting democracy abroad. Limiting the spread of the digital authoritarianism model that China has pioneered at home and abroad will be key to this effort. To succeed, the US must rally like-minded liberal democracies around a set of principles for the digital age that promote shared prosperity and personal freedom. Failure to do so will allow countries like China and Russia to exert greater influence on the digital governance rules that other countries choose to follow.