The proposed FY 2020 budget changes would be the most significant overhaul of USG humanitarian structures in decades. The proposal in its current form is unlikely to get much traction in Congress, where it is seen on both sides of the aisle as dramatically weakening US leadership on refugees. In light of other moves by the administration—like slashing refugee resettlement numbers and treating asylum seekers roughly—that is a legitimate and vital concern. There is ample reason to approach the proposal with caution, particularly the idea of stripping away the refugee bureau’s resources.
The economic impacts of Donald Trump’s trade dispute with China have so far been limited, but the countries of Latin America are nonetheless paying an early price. For a region where many economies are already constrained by weakened fiscal positions, the additional uncertainty caused by rising protectionism is especially unwelcome.
The Trump administration has pledged to tie foreign aid more directly to countries’ United Nations (UN) votes, threatening to punish countries who vote against the US position by cutting their foreign assistance. While the administration’s harsh rhetoric marks a shift from the recent past, the United States has been using aid to influence UN votes for decades.
Private sector development has long been viewed as essential for economic growth in developing countries, and the US role in promoting it has focused mostly on how developing country governments could best set a policy environment that made it possible. But let’s consider the risks of concentrating too heavily on the private sector. What could go wrong with an agenda that is centered on “deal making for development”?
Total U.S. development assistance has fallen 22 percent since 2005 from $27.9 billion to $21.8 billion in 2007. In real terms, this was the smallest amount since 2002, excluding assistance to Iraq, Afghanistan, and HIV/AIDS programs. Senior fellow Steve Radelet and his coauthors examine the decline, and ask whether President Bush's pledge to double assistance to Africa is likely to be realized or not.
With President Bush's trip to Africa making headlines this week, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet and research assistant Sami Bazzi offer a close look at the latest U.S. foreign assistance numbers. Bottom line: although America's aid has more than doubled since 2000, the new money went mostly to Iraq, Afghanistan and a small number of debt relief operations; and almost all was allocated through bilateral rather than multilateral channels. Assistance to Africa more than quadrupled from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $6.6 billion in 2006 and has been enormously important in funding humanitarian relief and HIV/AIDS programs. But even with the increases, U.S. assistance to Africa still averages less than $9 per African per year. And U.S. assistance for Africa has become less selective: since 2000 the shares going to the poorest countries and to the best-governed countries have fallen.
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provides more than $5 billion per year to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. Exactly how is that money spent? Donors, recipients, and even PEPFAR staff are often left guessing, because much of the extensive data the U.S. government collects on the program isn't released. In this new CGD note, Michael Bernstein and Sarah Jane Staats (Hise) urge the U.S. Congress to require that PEPFAR regularly release this data. They argue that this would improve coordination between PEPFAR and other donors, help PEPFAR staff assess progress and hold recipients accountable, and increase cost-effectiveness. Some of the data will soon be available anyway: CGD's HIV/AIDS Monitor is preparing to release PEPFAR funding data for Fiscal Years 2004-2006 obtained by a partner organization through a Freedom of Information Act request.