Briefing On the White House Summit on International Development: Sustaining The New EraWashington, DC
October 20, 2008
Briefer: Henrietta Fore, Director of Foreign Assistance and USAID Administrator
(11:15 a.m. EDT)MR. WOOD: Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday. As promised, we have USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore here to talk to you about tomorrow’s White House Summit on International Development. So Administrator Fore will take – will make some opening remarks and then take your questions.
So without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Administrator Fore.
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: Thank you, Robert.
MR. WOOD: You’re welcome.
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: Well, good morning, everyone.
QUESTION: Good morning.
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: I’ve been invited this morning to draw your attention to the White House Summit on International Development: Sustaining A New Era. And it will take place tomorrow in the Ronald Reagan Building from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and I am pleased to announce that President Bush will give remarks over the noon hour.
We will begin with a very strong morning, and I believe that many of you may have the outline of the – yes, I’m seeing some nodding heads, good. The Bush Administration has definitely raised the profile of development like no administration since Truman and the Marshall Plan at the onset of the Cold War. As Truman and Marshall before him, the President has brought a new awareness to both policymakers and the American public on the central role that development plays in advancing United States’ security interests by advancing democracy, and by laying foundations for a more peaceful and prosperous world.
The summit will commence with remarks by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of the chief architects of foreign assistance reform and a key figure responsible for the current renewal of foreign assistance. That follows with a day-long session that will have five plenary sessions on country ownership, which has been a very important part of the key development agenda, stressing the importance of country ownership, good governance, results-based programming, and economic growth strategies.
Invited speakers and distinguished guests will include the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Bob Geldof. Other participants will be United States practitioners of foreign assistance programming who will share their insights on best practices and continuing challenges, including the Global AIDS Coordinator, the president of the Malaria Initiative for the President, the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the CEO of OPIC.
We are – also have a number of panels with notable representatives from academia, from journalism, from foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations and faith-based groups, as well as major corporations and foundations, from representatives of host country governments and country beneficiaries from around the world. National Security Advisor Steve Hadley will give the closing remarks.
So as the Director of Foreign Assistance and the Administrator of USAID, I will play one part in this, and my panel in the morning will be on good governance. But I hope you will all join us for this event tomorrow. I think it will important and very informative. So thank you.
QUESTION: Is this supposed to be a look back at the last eight years or a look forward as to how foreign assistance should be changed in the future?
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: I think it will cover past, present and future. As you can see by the sections -- ownership and good governance and results-based and economic growth – it will carry some of the lessons that we have learned over the past few years on what’s been effective. And you will hear from many of the panelists in what they feel has worked. But all of this foreshadows what we should be doing in the future and what they are planning in the future in their countries and what we are planning to do with them as partners in their countries. So it will be past, present and future.
QUESTION: The focus seems to be on Africa if we look at the top guests, like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Bob Geldof and discussion of malaria. Is that correct?
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: No, I think it’s going to be much broader than that – worldwide. On the governance panel, we will have a representative from Romania and another from Bulgaria. So I think you will see a broad spectrum of countries. This is a worldwide approach to development, and I think it will be multifaceted and very interesting.
QUESTION: Are you also going to be looking at how the financial crisis will impact development projects in the future? Because that seems to be what most countries are concerned about.
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: Yes, I’m sure it will come up in both questions as well as in panelists’ remarks. During these days, I think it’s been clear that it’s a worldwide issue that is a challenge that we, as countries around the world, must do as partners together, that it is clearer than ever that we will do this as a world and as a whole. So I’m sure it will get involved in everyone’s thinking. In our good governance panel, one of the main questions that most financial investors have is: Is there political stability and is there good political will for economic reforms and economic progress in the country? And if there is, then it becomes a safe place for capital. So all of these issues are integrated in the world of development.
QUESTION: Madame, as far as this economic crisis around the globe is concerned, what do you hear from countries in South Asia, especially India and U.S. now? Are you hearing anything from India, any kind of – as far as this country is concerned, an economic crisis going on?
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: Well, we speak with our many partners in India frequently, and we would anticipate that there will be a number of people from India tomorrow at the summit. And I’m sure that issues will affect others because there are many best practices in India, there are many challenges that others share. And as a result, we are all thinking together as a world on how to bring peace and prosperity and stability to countries.
QUESTION: And any of the problem going on between the countries, are you think, affected by this crisis in any way?
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: Well, I think that for most of our partnerships we are staying steady and stable and continuing our commitments.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about two things. One is the comparison of the Bush Administration and this aid effort to the Marshall Plan. Can you elaborate a little bit on what kind of comparison you’re making there?
And also, what sort of – is anybody trying to get – tried to sort of recalculate based on the financial crisis, specific dollar effects that may occur in the next few years; for example, in terms of international development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation? For example, would the funding for that be affected either based on pledges or based on what may occur, who may qualify in the future, AIDS funding and – but other development funding as well? Is somebody really trying to look carefully, not just hoping that pledges will continue to come through, but really looking concretely at what the effect may be?
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: Yes. All right. Why don’t we take that in two parts? The first one is related to the Marshall Plan. As you know, this President and the Administration has been very strong and clear on development assistance. And from all regions of the world, there has either been a doubling, a tripling, or quadrupling of development assistance. It’s been a major pillar, a major centerpiece of the Administration and the President’s thinking. There has been a great deal of thinking on the reform of foreign assistance, how we can introduce new models, such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the President’s initiative on HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR. So there is a very strong interest and a stamp that has been placed in the world of development.
During the Marshall Plan, there was a very strong increase in American interest and commitment to trying to help other regions of the world. And in dollars, this has been the largest increase in dollars that the United States has given, invested in the prosperity and peace of the developing world. And so it’s very important for this President to have made that commitment and for this Administration to have moved on it and gotten some extraordinary results, which then are a basis for building on for the future.
In terms of future commitments, I think there is a great deal of discussion among a variety of bilateral donors and multilateral donors about staying true to their commitments. I think many are questioning future additional commitments, and I think they are pausing on that for a moment. But the United States is staying steady in our commitments and we are programming now funds that are in our 2008 and 2009 budgets.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, are you going also to address in this conference the issue of HIV/AIDS?
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: HIV/AIDS is part of the development programs. So health, education, economic growth, good governance, justice systems, rule of law, all of these will be part of the conference. They will be woven in as themes. And you will find them – the HIV/AIDS will be brought up in the country ownership section of the conference, which is the first panel in the morning.
QUESTION: And to which extent they are going to discuss it? To which extent?
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: Well, each panel --
QUESTION: In the (inaudible), in funding?
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: -- each panel will discuss every subject. So it depends on panelists and their background and how they bring it up. So we will wait for tomorrow to see how they decide to address HIV/AIDS and its funding.
QUESTION: Thank you.
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: Good. Well, thank you very much.
QUESTION: Thank you.
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: And I hope we’ll see you.
QUESTION: Yes. I would like to ask you on the North Korea issue. Is there any mention or the decision to which country will provide oil to the North Korea – the incident of – with Japan?
MR. WOOD: I can take that.
ADMINISTRATOR FORE: I will pass this question on to Robert. Thank you.
QUESTION: All right. Thank you.