Given that US foreign aid has always been linked to national security, how much of a departure is President Trump’s approach from that of previous administrations? And what should we expect to happen to the 128 countries that voted to express “deep regret” over recent decisions on the status of Jerusalem?
CGD Policy Blogs
This week, the White House unveiled the first National Security Strategy of the Trump administration. As always, we were eager to see how the strategy considered the role of development. While there’s a lot to unpack in the 68-page document, here are few things that caught our eye.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a target to “significantly reduce illicit financial flows (IFFs).” While there is no global consensus about what this means, working definitions point to funds that are “illegally earned, transferred, and/or utilized.” The term is thus generally seen as an umbrella for a wide variety of “dirty money” including funds associated with drug, arms, and human trafficking; wildlife and natural resource crime; state capture and illicit enrichment; the financing of terrorism; and the evasion of taxes and tariffs.
Every year, millions of Americans power up decorative lights to celebrate the holidays. These festive lights invoke the best human aspirations of peace, joy, and generosity. This time of year, Americans should also celebrate that we can enjoy these traditions because we live in a country with a modern energy system that (almost always) delivers affordable 24/7 electricity.
Last week the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) board of directors approved financing for three projects, including, for the first time, a project in China. Looking back at AIIB operations to date, these are my three takeaways.
Expectations were low for the eleventh World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires, and on most accounts it still managed to under-deliver. This time around, US and Indian negotiators refused to compromise in service of achieving a consensus agreement in any area. Roughly three quarters of WTO members endorsed a precedent-setting, albeit hortatory, declaration on women and trade; the United States and India did not. And there were statements from varying groups of “like-minded” countries to pursue work in areas that could eventually lead to “plurilateral” agreements. Still, it is not clear these efforts are any more likely to overcome the sharp differences that have prevented compromise among the broader membership. And if they do, they could end up marginalizing smaller, less powerful developing countries.
Countries have seized a window of opportunity to address migration realities now and in the future—and next year is crunch time. An ambitious, non-binding process (political, not legal), the Global Compact marks an opportunity for states to commit to new, fresh thinking and renewed assurances around safe, orderly, and regular migration.
Do the fifteen year targets of the SDGs stand in the way of their vision of integration and sustainability? If you wanted to achieve long term development progress, you’d probably focus on technology change, learning and innovation in policies, and improving institutional functioning. If you wanted to improve outcomes in fifteen years, you’d probably focus on throwing money at technical solutions. The problems with the second approach include that we don’t have the money, and the technical solutions won’t necessarily work best over the long term.
Every December, MCC’s board of directors meets to select the set of countries eligible for MCC’s compact or threshold programs. And each year, before the board meeting, CGD’s US Development Policy Initiative publishes a discussion of the overarching issues expected to impact the decisions alongside its predictions for which countries will be selected. Here’s what to watch for at the upcoming MCC board meeting on December 19.