US BUILD act passes House; aims to counter China’s debt-trap diplomacy

US-HOUSE

Sept 27, 2018 (LBO) – United States House of Representatives have approved the inclusion of the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

The House yesterday passed the Act by a vote of 398-23 and the legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

BUILD Act is expected to consolidate the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and other development-finance programs into a reformed United States International Development Finance Corporation (USDFC).

“By creating a modern development finance institution, this legislation will better equip the US to address the world’s massive development needs while also advancing American foreign policy and competitiveness,” CEO of OPIC Ray Washburne said.

This new agency is planning to provide an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative with a 60 billion US dollar budget to invest in debt as well as equities in developing countries.

“At a time when China is investing heavily in emerging markets under a state-directed model, the US model offers an alternative for advancing development in a manner that is financially sound, adheres to high standards and avoids debt traps.”

The US charges China for giving large amounts of infrastructure funding to smaller countries in order to then take control of the assets once the country defaults on repayment.

“China and other authoritarian regimes are preying on the developing world,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said after the vote.

“Their development finance programs, like Beijing’s BRI are saddling countries with unpayable debt and are not consistent with America’s democratic values. The US cannot afford to sit on the sidelines,”

“Today’s bill will build a modern development finance institution that will create jobs and reduce poverty in emerging markets. Not only is that a win for America’s exports and jobs, but it also strengthens our national security.”

The White House earlier announced that the bill is consistent with the President Donald Trump’s national security strategy and the fiscal year 2019 budget request.

The White House added that this will catalyze market-based, private-sector development and economic growth in less-developed countries and advance the foreign policy interests of the United States.

Analysts say the BUILD Act is the most significant reform of America’s development finance system in decades.