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CGD in the News

December 31, 2018

Are the wheels coming off China's Belt and Road megaproject? (CNN)

From the article:

Many countries that were initially willing to take Beijing's money have expressed concern over what could happen should they default on debt payments, particularly after the Sri Lanka deal.

Part of the problem stems from Beijing's "ad hoc approach" to settling debt issues, according to a report by the Center for Global Development (CDG), which pointed to a lack of consistency in dealing with defaulting nations. In the past, China has been willing to write off or restructure debts and extend further lines of credit, while at other times it has demanded assets to service the loans.

"Without a guiding multilateral or other framework to define China's approach to debt sustainability problems, we only have anecdotal evidence of ad hoc actions taken by China as the basis for characterizing the country's policy approach," the CDG report said.

This creates significant uncertainty, and forces governments borrowing from China to rely on maintaining strong bilateral ties above all else to ensure future lending policies.

December 28, 2018

From Asia to Africa, China’s “debt-trap diplomacy” was under siege in 2018 (Quartz)

From the article:

On the eve of his first (and only) official visit to Africa, former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson drew a sharp contrast between US aid and lending in Africa, and China’s—one of many warnings from the US on the topic this year.

“The United States pursues, develops sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens rule of law, and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet,” Tillerson said, speaking at George Mason University ahead of a trip that would take him to Ethiopia, Kenya, Chad, and Nigeria. “This stands in stark contrast to China’s approach, which encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty.”

That warning came just days after a report by the Center for Global Development, a US-based research nonprofit, warned that eight countries were at serious risk of above-average debt because of Chinese lending. The only African nation among the eight—Djibouti—is a worrying inclusion for the US, given it’s home to a major US military base, and as of last year, China’s first overseas military base as well. Djibouti government debt went from 50% of GDP (pdf, p. 1) five years ago to over 80% (pdf, p. 14). The US is concerned that like in Sri Lanka, China could eventually take control of a key port in Djibouti.

December 20, 2018

Experts Call for Inclusion of Pregnant Women in Vaccine Research (VOA)

From the article:

Pregnant women have been systematically overlooked in the development and deployment of new vaccines, undermining their health and their communities’ safety, according to guidelines released this month by an international team of researchers, scientists and health care providers.

The report, developed by the Pregnancy Research Ethics for Vaccines, Epidemics and New Technologies (PREVENT) working group, identifies a cycle of exclusion that prevents pregnant women from accessing the benefits of vaccines.

“There’s a lot of reticence to include pregnant women in research,” said Carleigh Krubiner, the project director and a co-principal investigator for PREVENT.

And that’s led to a shortfall in data about how pregnant women respond to vaccines.

Krubiner, an associate faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, told VOA that researchers and health care providers tend to exclude pregnant women from trials, vaccinations and tracking because they lack evidence of the risks expectant mothers face.

“We continue to have this Catch-22 of not having enough evidence to feel like we can do the research. But if we don’t do the research, we don’t have the evidence,” Krubiner said.

December 14, 2018

New US-Africa policy takes aim at growing Chinese, Russian influence (Talk Media News)

From the interview with Todd Moss:
Optics aside, countering Russian and Chinese won’t be cheap, and Bolton instead pressed for reducing foreign aid to countries able to pay their own bills or that vote against the U.S. at the United Nations.
Todd Moss is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.
“Africa is a long-term strategic play for the United States and we should behave like we’re here for the long haul rather than negotiating over small things over short time horizons.”
Listen to the interview here.
December 12, 2018

The AI boom is happening all over the world, and it’s accelerating quickly (The Verge)

By Nick Statt

From the article:

A paper from US think tank, the Center for Global Development, that was published back in July centered on the potential effects of AI and robotic automation on global labor markets. Researchers found that there is not nearly enough work being done to prepare for the overall automation fallout, and we’re spending too much time debating the general ethics and viability of complete automation in a narrow set of markets. “Questions like profitability, labor regulations, unionization, and corporate-social expectations will be at least as important as technical constraints in determining which jobs get automated,” the paper concluded.
Read the full article here.
December 12, 2018

Digital wallet concept can boost farming (Business Daily)

From the article:

More than 60 percent of farming in Africa is done manually and only less than 20 percent employ machinery and this is the key reason that the continent still lags in food security. Research shows that agricultural production has remained stagnant while at the same time the population has expanded with a fast-rising middle class.

As a result, Africa food imports are rising so much that according to the World Bank the demand will be up by 60 percent by 2030. The President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, in a speech at the Centre for Global Development event held in Washington DC in April 2017, said “Africa’s annual food import bill of $35 billion, estimated to rise to $110 billion by 2025, weakens African economies, decimates its agriculture and exports jobs from the continent.”


December 12, 2018

Yemen war: Billions in aid, but where's it going? (BBC)

From the article: 

Delivering aid in an active conflict is challenging - continued fighting and air strikes make it dangerous for humanitarian workers to gain access to people in need.

In the months of June and July this year, 86% of incidents where UN staff were delayed or denied access were due to administrative restrictions on movement - activities that require permissions from the authorities. Most of the rest were delayed by military operations and hostilities impeding humanitarian operations.


However, no amount of aid can offset the economic collapse and spiking food prices that the war has produced, says Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Centre for Global Development.

December 12, 2018

“La política expansiva es el ajuste” (Página 12)

From the article:

“Tenemos que seguir el camino del desierto de consolidar las cuentas públicas. Transitamos una posición muy sólida en términos de liquidez y trabajamos para lograr el inédito objetivo de contar con un año de prefinanciamiento”, sostuvo Dujovne al compartir un panel con el ex subsecretario para Asuntos Internacionales del Tesoro de los Estados Unidos, John Taylor; el ex ministro de Hacienda de Chile, Andrés Velasco, y la economista peruana Liliana Rojas Suárez. “Nuestro norte era reintegrar a la Argentina al mundo y converger a cuentas públicas solventes que nos garantizaran no estar expuestos a riesgos de liquidez. Veníamos de tener controles de capital, tener que exportar para importar, y no tener respeto por la ley”, aseguró el ministro, que confinó su exposición al tradicional libreto económico cambiemita.

December 12, 2018

Trump signed a good law this week. Yes, really. (Vox)

By Dylan Matthews
From the article:
PEPFAR is the federal government’s anti-HIV/AIDS foreign aid program, established by the Global AIDS Act of 2003 and renewed in 2008 and 2013. It is the single-largest global health initiative targeting a single disease in history. It currently provides support for antiretroviral treatment for 14.6 million people, both directly and through technical support to partner countries.
”PEPFAR has helped changed the equation on what was once — not too long ago — seen as an insurmountable plague,” the Center for Global Development’s Amanda Glassman and Jenny Ottenhoff write.
Read the full article here.