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UK Conservative leadership shuffle could jeopardize development assistance commitment

The UK Shadow International Development Minister for the Labour Party, Dan Carden, has warned that a looming Conservative party leadership contest puts the UK’s foreign assistance budget under threat. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has stated that she will stand down as Prime Minister once her Brexit deal is passed, but calls are growing within the Conservative Party for her to stand down earlier.

According to Carden, the ensuing leadership battle has candidates trying to appeal to the right-wing core of the Conservative party membershipcutting the foreign aid budget commitment is likely to appeal to this base. Potential leadership contenders, including Boris Johnson, former Foreign Minister, have clearly stated that they would reduce the UK's development budget.

News article - The Independent 

United Kingdom

South Korea and Uzbekistan strengthen partnership

Following South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s summit with the President of Uzbekistan, the two nations have agreed to upgrade their partnership from strategic co-partnership to special strategic co-partnership. They have agreed to cooperate closely in the areas of high value-added industries, medicine and healthcare, science and technology, and public administration, among others.

Press release – Korea.kr (in Korean)

South Korea

Canada among top 10 most 'principled' DAC donors according to ODI index

Canada has been ranked sixth place in the Overseas Development Institute's (ODI) Principled Aid Index, which ranks bilateral Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors by how they use their official development assistance to pursue their long-term national interest in a safer, sustainable, and more prosperous world. The institute's report ranked donors using this new tool that measures how donors prioritize development objectives over self-interest and short-term 'wins'.  Canada was ranked so highly out of the 29 donors due to its use of aid to promote global cooperation and support vulnerable populations.

News release - Overseas Development Institute 

Canada

Australia's sector flows highlight development priorities in the Pacific

Australia's development funding in the Pacific focuses on governance, infrastructure, and transport investments, according to an analysis in the Lowy Interpreter. Health flows in the region are primarily from Australia and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The article provides a useful interactive graphic on the scale and source of sector flows.

Newsletter - The Lowy Interpreter

Australia

Ivanka Trump finishes women's empowerment tour in Africa

US presidential advisor and daughter of President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, made a two-country visit to Africa to promote the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, an effort to assist 50 million women in the developing world by 2025. Ms Trump first visited Ethiopia and then the Ivory Coast, where she toured a cocoa farm. She then spoke at a women's empowerment forum. 

News article - Reuters

United States

USAID preparing to lay off most local staff on Palestinian projects

The Trump administration has ordered the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to lay off most of the local aid workers in its West Bank and Gaza mission. The cuts are a result of a new US law that targets the Palestinian Authority for its financial support for people convicted of violence against Israelis.

USAID's work included assistance with building infrastructure, schools, and job creation. These cuts come at the same time as the Trump Administration plans to roll out its long-awaited peace plan. Many have opposed the reduction in staff, saying that USAID's development expertise and assistance had given those in the region a chance to live independently, and that the loss is likely "irreplaceable". 

News report - National Public Radio  

United States

Germany lowers economic growth forecast

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) is lowering Germany's growth forecast for the current year to 0.5%. In October, Altmaier had predicted growth of 1.8 % upon which tax estimates were based. The reduction in the forecast significantly impacts tax estimates, which are now expected to be at least €10 billion (US$ 11.3) lower per year. Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) has already lowered the spending caps (“Eckwertebeschluss”) for the 2020 federal budget. In order to avoid a deficit, however, additional savings will be necessary, making an increase in the development and defense budgets--as demanded by the conservative membership of the current ruling coalition--unlikely.

Newspaper Article – General-Anzeiger Bonn (in German) 

Germany

Japanese foreign ministry survey shows that public opinion favors development spending on social infrastructure

Japan's foreign ministry has announced the results of a domestic opinion survey on Japan's diplomacy in 2019, which took into account public views on international development. Notable results include:

  • When asked about what areas should be given particular priority in Japan’s development assistance, 61% of respondents said “assistance to realize a better society, including education, health and sanitation,” followed by “assistance for saving lives, including food aid, recovery from natural disasters and disaster risk reduction” at 54%.
  • When asked about the major global challenges that Japan needs to prioritize under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 45% of respondents said “education,” followed by “marine plastic litter” at 41%.
  • With the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7) due to be held in Yokohama in August this year, when asked about what particular areas Japan should concentrate on in its diplomacy with Africa, the most popular response was “contribution to peace and stability,” followed by “cooperation for poverty eradication” at 51%.

Press release – MOFA 

Japan

Closer EU partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean

The European Commission has issued a Joint Communication setting out a vision for deepening its relationship with partner countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Over the last decades, the EU has signed association, free trade, or political and cooperation agreements with 27 of the 33 LAC countries. The EU is the LAC's third largest trade partner and the largest provider of development cooperation to LAC. The Joint Communication aims to provide strategic direction for EU action with LAC, in line with the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy, the European Consensus on Development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the “Trade for All” Communication as well as the negotiating directives for a partnership agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States. The EU-LAC Communication will serve as a blueprint for closer ties between the two regions. With higher-income countries transitioning to sustainable development, the EU plans to support efforts to tackle remaining development challenges, while also consolidating development cooperation with less developed countries.

Press release – European Commission

EU

'Global gag rule' hits PEPFAR implemeters

The US' expanded 'Global Gag Rule', which prohibits US health funding to foreign aid groups that provide abortion services, counseling, or even financial support to other groups that provide such services, has started to affect implementers of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University and amFAR. 

Once limited to family planning, the expanded prohibition now applies to all global health implementers. The study surveyed nearly 300 PEPFAR implementing partners in 45 programs and found that the rule has now impeded the provision of full sexual and reproductive services, including contraceptives, and HIV services. The rule particularly affects sub-Saharan Africa, youth populations, and other marginalized groups.

Opinion piece - Devex

United States Global health