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What’s the Latest Economics Research on Africa? A Round-up from the Center for the Study of African Economies 2019 Conference

Last week’s annual Center for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) conference brought together researchers from the African continent and around the world for the presentation of nearly 300 papers about nearly every aspect of African societies, from agriculture to education to firms to health to trade. Here I provide a micro-summary of almost every paper presented at the conference.

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Introducing the USDFC Monitor: A Q&A with OPIC's David Bohigian

CGD is pleased to introduce USDFC Monitor, a platform for information, reasoned analysis, practical recommendations, and evidence-based discussion of important issues that will face the United States’ new full-service development finance institution. Drawing inspiration from a similar endeavor launched by CGD to track and inform the early days of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, you can expect USDFC Monitor to provide a mix of timely commentary and in-depth analysis. 

To kick off, we posed three big questions to David Bohigian, Acting President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, about his expectations for the new agency.

Exaggerating Multinational Tax Avoidance Does Not Help Africa

Matti Kohonen of Christian Aid holds out the enticing prospect that African countries could collect an additional 1.5 percent of gross domestic product in tax if only big multinationals would stop dodging. The problem is that this estimate is (still) based on wishful thinking. Multinational corporations should pay tax, but the scale of potential revenues depend on underlying levels of investment and profitability in a country. 

Stock photo of various currencies

How Will Donors Spend $170 Billion This Year and Next?

In 2019-20, donors will commit roughly $170 billion of public funding to an alphabet soup of international aid organisations, many of which their citizens may never have heard of. Each replenishment will be considered as a separate exercise, ignoring the reality that they are competing for limited donor resources.

Figure 3. Number of IDFC institutions active within each SDG

The Biggest Club You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

SDGs. Billions to trillions. South-South development cooperation. Development finance. If these terms resonate with you (positively or negatively), and you’ve never heard of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), you should rectify that. At least, that’s the conclusion we’ve drawn after a year-long study of the IDFC and its member institutions. This work has culminated in a new CGD report, The International Development Finance Club and the Sustainable Development Goals: Impact, Opportunities, and Challenges

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.

China and US flags

The Problem with Competing for the Allegiance of Poor Countries

In warning APEC leaders last week of China’s “constricting belt” and “one-way road,” Vice President Mike Pence provided the clearest signal yet that the US approach to foreign assistance will be shaped, if not determined, by competition with China. In the context of the administration’s trade war with China, this may not come as much of a surprise. But when it comes to the conduct of foreign assistance, it marks a striking turn away from the bipartisan approach to aid since the end of the Cold War—an approach defined around cooperation and one aimed at curbing the bad practices that arise when donors compete for the allegiance of aid recipients.

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