TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Africa: Bush Showcases international development progress

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Source: (Washington, DC)

The United States has ushered in a new era of international development, says President Bush, by empowering a new generation of leaders to lift their citizens from poverty, fight disease and increase educational and economic opportunities.

"People in the developing world have the capacity to improve their own lives, and they will rise to meet high expectations," Bush said October 21 in his keynote address to the White House Summit on International Development.

Bush, along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Henrietta Fore and other top U.S. officials, joined representatives from partner countries, the United Nations, international financial institutions and nongovernmental aid groups at the event to assess progress and urge continued engagement, even in the face of the ongoing global financial crisis.

"America is committed -- and America must stay committed -- to international development for reasons that remain true regardless of the ebb and flow of the markets," Bush said.

Since coming to office in 2001, the Bush administration has made global development a top priority, Rice said in opening remarks to the conference. U.S. aid to Africa quadrupled in size and assistance to Latin America doubled while funding for other regions in need was tripled.

The United States has also worked with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to bring $60 billion in debt relief to poor countries and help them avoid new debt by urging donors to follow America's example and provide grants instead of loans wherever possible.

The United States has provided an additional $6.7 billion in 35 countries through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Bush said, an initiative that embodies the administration's philosophy that leaders must be held accountable for results by linking aid to measurable progress on projects defined by their own governments to promote democratic reforms, open markets and invest in the health and education of their citizens. "For too long, foreign aid was designed to make us feel good. Now, we are ensuring that our resources do good."

"We have approached developing nations not as objects of our policies but as equal partners in a shared endeavor of dignity," Rice said. "We have put our trust in leaders and citizens that are taking responsibility for their own challenges, taking ownership of their own development and remaking their countries."

The United States delivers more than half of the world's food aid, Bush said, and has provided more than $16 billion in funds and commodities since 2002 to feed millions facing starvation. It has provided an additional $5.5 billion to address the global food crisis, and has promoted new long-term solutions to improve access to food and clean water to break the cycle of famine in the developing world.

The United States has built new partnerships in the developing world to target a wide range of deadly diseases, Bush said. Today, more than 1.7 million people in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe receive treatment through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has also provided health-worker training, public-awareness education and other services for 7 million others. As a result, Bush said, "communities once given up for dead are being brought back to life."

Meanwhile, more than 25 million people in 15 African countries have benefited from the President's Malaria Initiative -- a five-year, $1.2 billion initiative to battle the mosquito-borne illness by distributing insecticide-treated bed nets, conducting indoor spraying campaigns, and providing cutting-edge drugs.

Education is a gateway to prosperity, Bush said, highlighting USAID efforts to train 700,000 teachers, distribute more than 10 million textbooks and provide scholarships in communities across the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. "We are helping to educate the doctors, lawyers, engineers, and entrepreneurs who will be vital to the developing world's future."

Promoting free trade is another essential element to long-term development, Bush said, by further empowering nations by gradually replacing foreign aid with self-generated economic growth, and promoting improved transparency and the rule of law. An expansion of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has led to a six-fold increase in exports to the United States, while a free trade agreement with the Dominican Republic and several Central American nations has increased trade by 30 percent -- improving lives and livelihoods and helping these nations attract investment needed to grow and prosper.

"We have increased economic opportunity by relieving debt and opening up trade. And we have delivered aid that empowers the poor and the marginalized," Bush said. "This is a historic commitment we can be proud of, and one that will secure a bright future for our partners in the developing world."