In the hubbub over the US-China trade war, one element of it skipped my notice: an act passed through both chambers of the US Congress which will heighten tension, reduce environmental safeguards & politicise aid.
The Build Act (full title, the Better Utilisation of Investments Leading to Development Act) is overtly political in its requirement for projects to serve a US foreign policy purpose.
This will be done through a new organisation, the International Development Finance Corp (IDFC), which will replace the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), set up in 1969.
Sarah Brewin, an agriculture & investment advisor to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, wrote about the enactment of the policy change in an article for the Independent Media Institute, which appeared on EcoWatch last week.
Her key paragraph:
“The Build Act requires the IDFC to develop guidelines & criteria to ensure that each project it supports has ‘a clearly defined development & foreign policy purpose.’ The requirement that all projects serve a foreign policy purpose, combined with weakened environmental protections, could see the IDFC supporting environmentally damaging projects if they are seen to be in US foreign policy interests – for instance, if it was thought that if not financed by IDFC, the project would instead be financed by a ‘strategic competitor,’with debt, influence & diplomatic relations accruing to that competitor rather than the US.”
The Build Act advances President Donald Trump’s view that human activity is the cause of climate change, while also advancing his anti-China cause.
EcoWatch, 4 December 2018: A US-China investment war is quietly emerging, and the environment will be the ultimate casualty
Reuters article, 4 October 2018: Congress, eying China, votes to overhaul development finance
International Institute for Sustainable Development
Attribution: EcoWatch, Reuters.