In a customs union with the EU, the UK could pursue reforms in services liberalisation, Aid for Trade, investment promotion, labour standards and bilateral trade agreements, while maintaining EU tariffs on goods imports. This may be its best trade-for-development strategy after Brexit.
CGD Policy Blogs
Last week, the US Treasury Department submitted a report to the appropriations committees of the House and Senate on strengthening the accountability mechanisms of the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, fulfilling a requirement included in the spending package signed into law earlier this year. The report acknowledges recent increases in caseloads and recommends that both the Inspection Panel and the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) be allocated larger budgets to carry out their responsibilities.
In our new policy paper, we take advantage of the fact that the impact of UK aid is independently assessed by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI). Looking back over 8 years and 65 graded assessments, even with a focus on riskier projects, we find that almost 80 percent of UK aid assessed was well spent. With a spending review on the horizon, HM Treasury will be looking closely at departmental performance and should use ICAI’s findings to shape their allocations.
Chairwoman of the US House Committee on Financial Services Maxine Waters' recent intervention provides an opportunity for the Bank Group to rethink the Private Sector Window to better align with the International Finance Corporation’s 3.0 reform process, which was designed to increase the Corporation’s development impact, move toward making markets, and improve standards. At the same time, reform could allow the PSW to live up to the Multilateral Development Bank Principles to support sustainable private sector operations.
Twenty-five years ago, travel writer and journalist Robert Kaplan wrote an article for The Atlantic, headlined “The Coming Anarchy.” It was an apocalyptic account of Kaplan’s visit to West Africa and his dark vision that much of the world would end up looking like war-torn Sierra Leone. Kaplan suggested recently that he thought “The Coming Anarchy” had stood the test of time. I disagree, and think the fact that Kaplan was wrong matters: global jeremiads are a force for isolationism. I discussed why with The Atlantic’s Matthew Peterson on a new podcast.
Nearly 4,000 people in rural Bihar, India, answered the question, “Would you rather have the government budget spent on cash transfers or public health and nutrition services?” According to a blog post by Khemani, Habyarimana, and Nooruddin, “only 13 percent chose cash if it came at the expense of spending to improve public health and nutrition.” The pattern is similar when comparing cash to roads, with the vast majority of people preferring roads.
The global narrative on development finance centers on enabling all countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This cascades into a set of questions about how much financing is needed, how it should be mobilized, and how it will be used. While the SDGs motivate action and have a reasonable prospect of being met in middle-income developing countries, achieving the SDGs in low-income countries (LICs), which have further to travel and more binding resource and institutional constraints, will be harder. The challenge will be most acute in Africa, where pockets of absolute poverty are increasingly concentrated and environmental degradation and conflict add to state fragility.
International Finance Corporation CEO Philippe Le Houerou announced that the IFC’s board will undertake a review of its accountability mechanisms, including the office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman. The announcement is timely. By initiating a review, IFC’s Board is taking the first step toward a more transparent and accountable operating structure.
RTI International, in collaboration with CGD, is excited to share a new effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to expand our collective knowledge about successful large-scale education programs. Through this work, we will examine how these programs have succeeded in improving learning outcomes, while identifying the key ingredients underpinning their success. We plan to use these findings to develop a guide and user-friendly tools for understanding essential elements of effective large-scale programs.
While income growth has been labeled "the holy grail of development," new analysis from Owen Barder, Lee Robinson, and Euan Ritchie suggests that there is just as much value in focusing on promoting innovation and the spread of technology.