Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.


Importing Drugs and Exporting Our Problems

This entry was also published on the Huffington Post.

I was going to blog about the illogic of the proposed amendment to health care legislation allowing the importation of lower-priced drugs from Canada, but Ezra Klein of the Washington Post beat me to it. As he notes, referring to floor comments by Senator David Vitter (R-LA):

To Blog or Not to Blog about the WTO Ministerial?

This post also appeared on the Huffington Post.

I write about trade so I feel that I should say something about the trade ministers’ meeting that concluded yesterday in Geneva. But what is there to say, especially if I want to follow my mother’s advice about not saying anything if I can’t say something nice? There have been almost too many to count of failed meetings trying to bring the ill-fated Doha Round of trade negotiations to a close. This one was supposed to be about institutional issues and how to strengthen the WTO for the future; Doha dominated anyway.

Déjà Coup and the Forgotten “Autogolpe”

This blog entry also appeared on the Huffington Post.

Adam Thomson, in today’s Financial Times, writes of the coup in Honduras as an echo of 1980s violence in Central America. But, in fact, the past is not as distant as much of the coverage of the coup suggests and the seemingly forgotten autogolpe, or “self coup” in Guatemala in 1993 may offer some lessons for today.

GAO Report Highlights Costs of U.S. Food Aid Restrictions

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post on June 5, 2009.

According to a testimony before congress yesterday and a new Government Accountability Office report, congressional restrictions on U.S. food aid raise the costs of delivering it by as much as a third and delay it reaching hungry people by up to 100 days. When donors purchase food locally or regionally, it not only gets to needy people faster and more cheaply, it may also better match local preferences and nutrition needs. Yet, in the midst of last year’s global food price crisis, Congress passed a farm bill that continued the long-standing practice of requiring that food aid be purchased in the United States and that 75 percent of it be delivered by U.S.-flagged ships.

A U.S. Trade Policy for Development: Helping The Poorest in A Time of Crisis

This blog orginally apeared on Vox on 5/27/09

The economic crisis is hitting the world’s poorest countries through falling trade and commodity prices. This column argues that the US should respond by further opening its market to exports from small, poor economies. That would not only provide an additional stimulus to those economies but also strengthen US global leadership, give a boost to the Doha Round, and serve broader US national interests by helping to promote political stability in some very shaky parts of the world.

“The World’s poorest developing nations have a special place in the Obama trade agenda.”

-US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Georgetown University, 29 April 2009

While welcome, it is not yet clear how Ambassador Kirk’s words, and the President’s commitment, will be turned into action – and the need for action is urgent.

New Poll Confirms that Congress Doesn't Listen to Voters When Lavishing Subsidies on Farmers

When I was writing my book, Delivering on Doha: Farm Trade and the Poor, I came across a 2004 poll showing that Americans, including in farm states, support subsidies only for small farmers and only in bad years. Last week, another poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland was released showing that attitudes haven’t changed. The reality, as I discussed in my book, is that the top 20 percent of recipients receive 80 percent of all payments.

Missed Opportunities in Port of Spain, But a Step Forward on Cuba

As President Obama was making his way to the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago last week, many hoped for something more concrete than just a fresh start with our neighbors in Latin America, who felt neglected and ignored for the past eight years. Those of us hoping that the president might take the opportunity to announce plans to seek congressional approval for two trade agreements that have been pending for two years or more--with Panama and Colombia--were disappointed.


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