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  • Author: Daniel F. Runde, Romina Bandura
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is a small independent federal agency whose mission is to help American “companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.” USTDA links American businesses to export opportunities in emerging markets by funding activities such as project preparation and partnership building in sectors including transportation, energy, and telecommunications. Since it was established 25 years ago, the agency has generated a total of $61 billion in U.S. exports and supported over 500,000 American jobs. In connecting American business to such opportunities, USTDA also links American technology’s best practices and ingenuity with U.S. trade and development policy priorities. USTDA is an instrument to enable American-led infrastructure development in emerging economies and, therefore, frequently sees increasing competition from government-backed Chinese firms and the challenge they can pose to American commercial engagement under the flag of One Belt, One Road (OBOR). OBOR is paving the way for Chinese engineering, procurement, and construction companies to prepare and develop infrastructure projects in OBOR countries in a way that favors Chinese standards, thereby exerting significant pressure to select Chinese suppliers. This creates a potentially vicious cycle—the more China builds, the faster their standards become the international norm, and, ultimately, this cycle could foreclose export opportunities for U.S. businesses and harm American competitiveness in global infrastructure development. U.S. exporters are increasingly requesting USTDA intervention at the pivotal, early stages of a project’s development, to compete in markets, such as the OBOR countries, where they frequently face Chinese competition. Of note, 40 percent of USTDA’s activities in 2016 were in OBOR countries across South and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Although there are other agencies that may seem to do work similar to USTDA, there are various aspects that make it a unique agency. This paper provides a brief description of USTDA, its origin and evolution, the impact on the U.S. economy and its proactive collaboration across U.S agencies. Finally, it offers a set of recommendations for USTDA on how to improve its operations and strengthen its role in the developing world.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Communications, Infrastructure, Trade, Transportation
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: James Michel
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: “Fragility”—the combination of poor governance, limited institutional capability, low social cohesion, and weak legitimacy—leads to erosion of the social contract and diminished resilience, with significant implications for peace, security, and sustainable development. This study reviews how the international community has responded to this challenge and offers new ideas on how that response can be improved. Based on that examination, the author seeks to convey the importance of addressing this phenomenon as a high priority for the international community. Chapters explore the nature of these obstacles to sustainable development, peace, and security; how the international community has defined, measured, and responded to the phenomenon of fragility; how the international response might be made more effective; and implications for the United States.
  • Topic: Development, Governance, Fragile States, Social Cohesion
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Reid Hamel
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Social protection programming, such as cash transfers and vouchers provided at the individual or household level, has become increasingly prominent as a tool to combat food insecurity worldwide. Advantages of a social protection approach include the ability to target and reach the most vulnerable segments of society and to provide direct support for basic needs without reliance on complex causal pathways.The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) invests relatively little in social protection despite its flagship initiative, Feed the Future, which seeks to mitigate food insecurity and to reduce the prevalence of stunting in 12 countries (formerly in 19). Ghana’s LEAP (Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty) program represents an exception to the U.S. investment pattern. In partnership with UNICEF, USAID/Ghana has made noteworthy investments in the expansion of the LEAP cash transfer program to add a new eligible group of beneficiaries: pregnant women and children under one year old. The intention to intervene during pregnancy and the first year of life is motivated by a growing understanding that good nutrition during this window is critical to physical and cognitive health and human development outcomes that last a lifetime. This report explores the development of Ghana’s LEAP program since 2008; its current coverage, successes, and challenges; and opportunities for both the government of Ghana and donor partners to spearhead continuous improvements for program outcomes and resource efficiency.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Social Policy, Development Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, North America, Ghana