Bush Outlines U.S. Development Agenda Before G8 Summit
USINFO Staff Writer
Washington – President Bush has announced new initiatives to strengthen financial markets and boost educational opportunities in Africa.
In a major speech prior to the June 6-8 Group of Eight (G8) summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, Bush also called on Congress to double U.S. funds for the global fight against HIV/AIDS and to fund his 2005 commitment to expand U.S. assistance to sub-Saharan Africa to $8.67 billion by 2010.
Speaking May 31 to the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, a coalition of businesses, nongovernmental organizations and community leaders, the president outlined the U.S. development agenda: “to bring progress and prosperity to struggling nations all across the world.”
“We’re working to increase access to trade and relieve the burden of debt. We are increasing our assistance to the world’s poorest countries and using this aid to encourage reform and strengthen education and fight the scourge of disease,” the president said.
The president also advanced a framework for developing a new international agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. (See related article.)
Promoting balanced global growth, fighting global warming, increasing help to Africa and fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics will be high on the agenda when Bush joins the leaders of Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom and Russia at the G8 summit.
Bush said his message at the summit will emphasize the common responsibility of the United States and other developed nations to help millions suffering from hunger, poverty and disease.
OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH TRADE
The president announced a new project called the Africa Financial Sector Initiative, which will provide technical assistance to African nations seeking to strengthen their financial markets.
In addition, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will work with the financial community to create several new private equity funds that would mobilize up to $1 billion for new private investments in Africa, he said.
By September, OPIC plans to select which funds to support based on its assessment of the developmental impact and potential for success, the White House said in a fact sheet also released May 31. (See fact sheet.)
“If you're interested in job creation, there's got to be capital available. It's in our interest that we help provide capital to African entrepreneurs,” the president said.
He also said open trade will improve lives faster than government help. He pledged to urge other nations at the G8 summit to help conclude a successful Doha round of global trade negotiations. (See related article.)
The president hailed the previously announced cancellation of external debt owed by Bolivia, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The bank will forgive approximately $3.4 billion in principal payments and $1 billion in future interest payments, according to IDB sources.
“If you are interested in helping the poor, it makes sense for the developed world to forgive the debt, and that’s what the United States will continue to do,” he said.
EDUCATION AND HEALTH
To make use of economic opportunities, people in developing countries need access to good education, the president said. He called on Congress to provide $525 million over the next five years with the goal of providing basic education for 4 million additional children in Africa and across the globe.
In 2002, President Bush launched the African Education Initiative, which has provided about $300 million to improve educational opportunities for African boys and girls. The president said another $300 million will be spent by 2010. (See fact sheet.)
Speaking May 30 at the White House, the president called on Congress to double the initial commitment to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) of 2003 by dedicating an additional $30 million to fight HIV/AIDS that is ravaging many developing countries. (See related article.)
AID AND TRANSFORMATION
In his May 31 remarks, the president stressed that the goal of U.S. development aid is to achieve specific, measurable results and help developing countries build democratic institutions and unleash their human potential.
He cited the Millennium Challenge Account, a U.S. assistance that provides aid to those countries that implement democratic reforms, fight corruption, invest in their people and promote economic freedom. (See related article.)
“We don’t give aid to a country where the leaders steal the money,” Bush said.
The president said that since he took office, the U.S. has more than doubled its public development spending worldwide. Starting from $10 billion in 2000, the U.S. public aid reached $27.6 billion in 2005. According to preliminary data, it was close to $23 billion in 2006.
According to a recent study, U.S. public development aid is only a fraction of overall U.S. involvement with the developing world, and the majority of American foreign aid is channeled through the private sector. According to the study, the United States is the largest aid donor in absolute numbers and the seventh largest in proportion to its gross national income. (See related article.)