Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

The 'Declaration of Independence' by John Trumbull (1819)

Thomas Jefferson, the Original Debt Trap Diplomat

CGD research has become Exhibit A virtually every time the charge of “debt trap diplomacy” has been leveled against China in the media this past year. Yet, our research shows that many of China’s borrowers are managing their debts just fine and seem unlikely to fall into any traps.

road through forest

China’s “Green” Belt and Road Initiative Isn’t Very Green

What would it look like today if major multilateral finance institutions like the World Bank had never adopted the climate agenda as a binding constraint on their operations? Unfortunately, we have a real-world approximation of that hypothetical in the form of Chinese development finance. At least, that’s a conclusion I draw from an important new report from World Resources Institute (WRI) and Boston University, Moving the Green Belt and Road Initiative: From Words to Actions.

A column chart of external government debt for Sub-Saharan Africa by official, private, and Chinese creditors

2018 FOCAC: Africa in the New Reality of Reduced Chinese Lending

The 2018 FOCAC Summit will open tomorrow in Beijing. There is much speculation about the size of the investment package China will unveil at the summit. It appears, however, that we are in a new phase of Chinese financing. A combination of domestic and international pressures will likely alter China’s extensive lending program—African states that have relied on this lifeline must adjust to the new reality.

Map of countries involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative coded by their risk of debt distress

Will China's Belt and Road Initiative Push Vulnerable Countries into a Debt Crisis?

In a new CGD paper, we assess the likelihood of debt problems in the 68 countries we identify as potential BRI borrowers. The big takeaway: BRI is unlikely to cause a systemic debt problem, yet the initiative will likely run into instances of debt problems among select participating countries—requiring better standards and improved debt practices from China.

AIIB Has Another Opportunity to Establish Best MDB Practice

In advance of adopting a new Policy on Public Information, the AIIB is inviting suggestions on how it could best align public disclosure with its guiding principles of “promoting transparency, enhancing accountability and protecting confidentiality.” The adoption of the new policy provides AIIB President Jin Liqun and the AIIB shareholders an opportunity to demonstrate that this newest of multilateral development banks (MDBs) is serious about its commitment to adopting international best practices. I identified a number of actions that the AIIB could take to improve its disclosure practices. Here are my top three recommendations:

China Borrows a Lot of Money from the World Bank, and That’s Okay

As the World Bank makes a case to its shareholders for a capital increase this year, they are grappling with an uncomfortable truth: one of their biggest borrowers, China, happens to hold the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, is one of the largest recipients of foreign direct investment, enjoys some of the best borrowing terms of any sovereign borrower, and is itself the world’s largest sovereign lender.

On the Docket for Development in 2018: CGD Experts Weigh in

Here at CGD, we’re always working on new ideas to stay on top of the rapidly changing global development landscape. Whether it’s examining new technologies with the potential to alleviate poverty, presenting innovative ways to finance global health, assessing changing leadership at international institutions, or working to maximize results in resource-constrained environments, CGD’s experts are at the forefront of practical policy solutions to reduce global poverty and inequality. Get an in-depth look below at their thoughts on the 2018 global development landscape.

Getting to Yes on a World Bank Recapitalization

World Bank President Jim Kim is hoping the bank’s 189 shareholders will agree to increase the current capital of the bank’s “hard” window sometime in 2018. But the US wants to link any support for a recapitalization to World Bank “graduating” China—and perhaps other member countries with good access to private capital markets who don’t seem to “need” the World Bank. There are sensible arguments on both sides of this divide.

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