On September 22, 2010 at the UN General Assembly High Level Summit on the MDGs, President Obama signed a Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) on Global Development, which outlines the US approach and policy agenda to international development and future development projects. So what does this mean to the current approach to international development? Is this a hidden policy agenda for the US to gain international popularity? Do we have what it takes to invest in these development strategies and plans?The PDD will be used to implement efficiency and direction in current development projects and in prospective plans, agencies, and programs. Additionally, President Obama asks for nations to open their markets and believes this will initiate regional and international trade, thus comforting many nations’ economies. Finally, the PDD asks for a more organized, productive, and conclusive Doha Round for the betterment of all economies — developing and developed. A focus on the Doha Round will certainly benefit corporations, trade associations and agencies, and other businesses. Unsurprizingly, Obama has been applauded by trade organizations such as Professional Services Council (PSC). Stan Soloway, PSC’s President and CEO, states:
“PSC welcomes the president’s focus on economic growth as the fundamental force that will eventually transform the developing world and we support the president’s call to ‘use all the tools at our disposal’ to achieve complex and difficult development goals.”
Obama’s efforts may seem like a great idea, but pundits such as Kimberly Ann Elliot from CGD criticize the PDD for a number of reasons. Elliot’s critique focuses on the trade policies. The report provided by USAID, the federal agency authorized to execute the MDGs and Obama’s plan from the PDD, fails to outline in detail the trade stipulations necessary to meet the MDGs.
“Many rich countries provide special market access for exports from least developed countries (LDCs), but the trade preferences are often inhibited by tough restrictions and do not extend to the products that matter most to poor countries.”
Additionally, the USAID report [on page 26] highlights changes and programs implemented specifically for select African nations through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Signed into action in 2000, AGOA encourages African countries to open up their markets by expanding “preferential access for imports from beneficiary Sub-Saharan African countries.” Elliot predicts that the focus on Africa through AGOA, and thus the exclusion of non-African nations, will limit the overall growth of LDCs that do not have the benefits of such trade preferences.
Conclusively, the goal of the PDD is encouraging progress through development and opportunity. But reaching that goal becomes a little tricky with the limitations at hand. The PDD will provide more oversight and streamline USAID, but only time will tell us the results.