Information and news about foreign policy

Podcasts for Perspective: Three Shows Raising Global Inequality Awareness Since podcasting began to take off, this audio medium has really carved out a significant space for itself in American media with its on-demand, radio-like content. According to Edison Research’s 2018 podcast statistic report, 26 percent of Americans (73 million people) listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. Podcasts are easily available online or through any smart device and target virtually every interest and topic, including global inequality awareness.

Whether someone is new to podcasts or a regular listener, they are a great way to learn new things, expand people’s interests and gain perspectives on different topics. Below, are three suggestions for globally-minded podcasts. Though each of these podcasts has a different focus, they all contribute to raising awareness for global inequality issues relating to poverty.

Hacking Hunger

Produced by World Food Program U.S.A., Hacking Hunger shares stories about hunger from around the globe. Hacking Hunger connects listeners to the voices of aid workers and families involved with the World Food Program. By highlighting direct experiences, this podcast helps listeners imagine the realities of hunger from refugee camps to conflict zones.

Rarely longer than 30 minutes, Hacking Hunger offers concise, yet poignant stories from the frontlines of countries combatting hunger. According to the M.J. Altman, editorial director at World Food Program U.S.A., Hacking Hunger is most successful when it moves and motivates its listeners. By bringing attention to hunger issues worldwide, Hacking Hunger both raises awareness about and generates support for hunger relief funds.

Circle of Blue Podcasts

Circle of Blue is a non-profit, resource advocacy group that focuses on sanitation and water. Circle of Blue’s podcast covers water issues in depth by looking at how water relates to energy production, food, health and environmental topics. Though Circle of Blue has several programs (among them H2O Hotspots and What’s Up with Water), they are combined under “Circle of Blue WaterNews” on various podcast provider platforms.

With news-like quality and tone, Circle of Blue updates listeners on water issues worldwide. This podcast combines case-specific stories with connections to larger trends over time. Circle of Blue is a good podcast for listeners who want to explore how access to water contributes to inequality worldwide. Keep an eye out especially for the H2O Hotspot episodes, which feature in-depth stories on areas in danger of water-related conflicts.

Global Dispatches

From the team of the U.N. Dispatch, Global Dispatches covers foreign policy issues and world affairs. The show highlights policy-makers, aid workers, development experts and global affairs leaders through in-depth interviews. The varying content promotes global inequality awareness in many fields. For example, recent topics have included the link between poverty and vaccines, political conflict in Haiti and “energy poverty” in developing countries.

Despite the diverse content, the editor of the U.N. Dispatch blog, Mark Leon Goldberg, hosts the podcast and gives it a consistent voice between episodes. Global Dispatches contextualizes the central topic of each episode very well, making it easy to understand without prior knowledge. Episodes are generally fewer than 45 minutes long and updated frequently. This podcast is ideal for listeners who want to keep up-to-date with a diverse range of foreign policy issues.

Podcasts are a great way to stay informed when it seems like there are not enough hours in the day because they can be listened to on a walk or in the car. Listening to these podcasts (and others like it) can help people stay updated on different aspects of global issues and poverty as well as increase their global inequality awareness.

Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr

female democratic policyThe Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate race is well and truly underway. The Democratic Party recently announced that the Democratic National Convention will be held in July 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently, the number of declared candidacies for the Democratic Party stands at more than 200 with Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar being some of the critical players in this field. Here are brief summaries of what has defined these female democratic presidential candidates’ foreign policy agendas so far in their career, and what they have identified as key parts of their presidential campaigns.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren has been a long time supporter of foreign aid with a platform on trade that focuses primarily on re-investing power in the American Middle Class. Subsequently, she is an advocate for anti-corruption measures and cracking down on multinational corporations that prioritize profits over workers.

Furthermore, she has expressed caution about the U.S.’ trade position with China due to the alleged human rights abuses, contending that China upholds no pretense of democracy regardless of its seemingly capitalist motives. She argues that the domestic agenda should not be considered “as separate from our foreign policy” and that creating strong alliances will help ordinary Americans. Foreign policy must be used to address humanitarian crises and boost democracies worldwide.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris’ foreign policy approach has been shaped by her career as a federal prosecutor. She has identified ending human trafficking, fighting climate change and reducing terrorism among her key foreign policy stances. She is a supporter of ‘smart diplomacy,’ which includes the cracking down on international criminal organizations.

She favors creating a multilateral approach to address global climate change and, subsequently, opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership on account of it ‘invalidating’ California’s landmark environmental laws. Although she holds a similar stance to Warren on many issues, she has does not support tariffs on China due to the impact on California’s technology industry. She has not joined her colleagues Gillibrand and Warren in condemning cuts to Palestinian; however, she did join them in condemning the funding cuts to refugee programs.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand is a longtime fighter for both women in developing countries and women in the U.S., which has become a key part of her presidential platform. She co-sponsored the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2013, supporting the integration of gender into U.S. Foreign Policy.

She initially co-sponsored the Anti-Israel Boycott Act but withdrew her support several months later in 2017. Similar to Warren, she has supported using U.S. trade authority to discipline nations over the use of military force and, subsequently, she opposes U.S. collaboration with Saudi Arabia due to its role in the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis.

Gillibrand’s foreign policy statements outside of gender have focused on the protection of U.S. industries against unfair competition. Specifically, she has led the fight for U.S. steel manufacturers and fought back against cheap imports that harm U.S. producers of both primary and secondary products.

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar has identified a long list of campaign issues on foreign policy centered around advancing American National Security. She is a supporter of foreign aid and the tradition of the U.S. in providing humanitarian assistance, helping to “address refugee crises, preventing radicalization, and promoting stability around the world.”

She has supported sanctions against Iran and North Korea and voted in favor of the Anti-Israel Boycott Bill, which is against the U.N. resolution requesting that states refuse to do business with contractors that engage in business with Israel. She has specifically outlined support for strengthening trade links within North America and with Cuba as part of her foreign policy outlook with the aim of advancing regional interests and investment and strengthening the U.S. position in the global economy. She has favored maintaining a strong military presence more so than several of her female democratic contenders.

Although these candidates, the leading four female Democrats in the race, hold largely similar positions on foreign policy and global trade, there are subtle differences demonstrated by the range of issues they have vocally discussed and highlighted. They are all supporters of foreign aid and all sit largely within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. However, it is likely that as the race gets further underway, these female democratic presidential candidates’ foreign policy agendas will become more distinct.

Holly Barsham

Photo: Flickr

Department of State
The Department of State (DOS) is an executive office that is responsible for international relations. It serves as an advisory role to the President and represents the United States at the United Nations. But, there’s much more to it than just negotiating foreign treaties and running embassies. Here are 10 cool facts about the State Department.

10 Cool Facts About the State Department

  1. The Department of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of the United States. The seal is kept securely under lock and key in a glass enclosure in the Department’s Exhibit Hall. It can be used only with the permission of the Secretary of State. Over the years, the DOS has placed the Great Seal on display for the public, the first time being in 1955.
  2. The DOS has its own Diplomatic Motor Vehicle Office for foreign missions. This office works under the 1978 Diplomatic Relations Act and can issue registrations for foreign diplomats who have immunity in the United States. It also issues license plates, insurance and driver’s licenses.
  3. The State Department sponsors the Fulbright Program. Fulbright was established in 1946 and has had more than 250,000 participants since. The program’s mission is to create opportunities for better interactions and understanding between Americans and people of other nations. This is achieved by providing scholarships to American scholars who are seeking to study, teach or conduct research abroad and to foreign scholars who want to do the same in the United States.
  4. The Department of State as a top entry-level employer. With 1,000 job openings in 2019, the Department of State also offers remote internships called eInternships through the Virtual Student Federal Service program. The positions are open to part-time and full-time undergraduate and graduate students. All majors and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. In 2019, there have already been more than 125 internships offered through many different departments of the DOS, bringing new projects each year for students to participate in. The jobs vary from data visualization and infographic design to English-Spanish translations for the National Archives. The eInternships run from September through May; they are unpaid, part-time and some offer college credit as well as a variety of other benefits.
  5. The Department of State gives Linguist of the Year awards. The recipient of this award is an employee of the Foreign or Civil Service who has achieved a high level of knowledge of one or more foreign languages and who has demonstrated the ability to use that language to further U.S. diplomacy. The award comes with a $10,000 cash prize.
  6. The Department of State houses the Diplomatic Reception Rooms in Washington, D.C. In those rooms, the Secretary of State receives important guests. One historically important and cool fact is that the John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room is home to the desk upon which the Treaty of Paris 1783 was signed, ending the Revolutionary War. The rooms also contain one of the United States’ most rare collections of fine and decorative arts, which have a value of more than $100 million.
  7. The State Department collaborates with USAID. Even though USAID is not part of the government, the DOS has provided USAID with guidance on foreign policy since 1961. The DOS makes sure that foreign aid is distributed according to U.S. policy standards.
  8. The Department of State employs diplomatic couriers. This job requires nearly constant travel in order to escort and deliver diplomatic pouches with classified material between the Department of State and its foreign missions. Diplomatic couriers are covered under the Vienna Convention as they work under international treaties. They spend more than 75 percent of their work time in international or domestic travel. Peter Parker was the first man to be commissioned as a diplomatic courier in 1776. However, it wasn’t until World War I that the DOS started hiring couriers regularly. Today it employs approximately 100 diplomatic couriers.
  9. The Department of State is leading the Global Connect Initiative. Announced at the United Nations in 2015, the initiative aims to provide 1.5 billion people with internet access by 2020. Global Connect stresses the importance of internet access in economic development because it facilitates investment and creates jobs.
  10. The Department of State provides travel advisories with the possibility to sign up for travel alerts. The Bureau of Consular Affairs monitors safety around the world and issues warnings about security levels. Upon registration, people can receive notifications via e-mail or on an app on their phones. The website offers travel advice for people from all walks of life to ensure safety and well-being.

The State Department is responsible for the United States’ foreign policy and international relations. It operates in the United States and in its missions based in other countries. Despite its serious and global role, the State Department does some cool things. These 10 cool facts about the State Department show that it is about more than just policies; it offers adventurous careers, scholarships and awards and even lessons on the United State’s art history.

– Ewa Devaux
Photo: Google

New U.S. Africa Strategy
The National Security Advisor for the Trump Administration, John Bolton, unveiled the new strategy for the U.S. aid and investment in Africa in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. During the speech, Bolton outlined what the new U.S. Africa strategy will look like. It has three main focuses: advancing U.S. trade and commercial ties, countering Islamic terrorism and making sure that U.S. dollars are used efficiently and effectively. In the text below, the three main objectives of the new U.S. Africa Strategy are presented.

Advancing US Trade and Commercial Ties

Bolton stated in his speech that the United States plans on providing assistance to “key countries” and strategic objectives, with U.S. economic interests at the forefront of any aid given, unlike previous administrations, whose objectives in providing aid were focused on sustainable growth for African countries. In order to achieve this goal, the U.S. plans on enacting a new initiative called “Prosper Africa.” This initiative will focus on growing the African middle class, improving the business climate in the region, and supporting U.S. investments. No details on how the initiative will be implemented were given.

Countering Islamic Terrorism

The second objective of the new U.S. Africa strategy is to counter Islamic terrorism in Africa. Bolton highlighted three nations specifically: Mali, Libya and Sudan, where Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates have taken hold. Rather than giving money or aid directly to fighting the radical groups that have taken hold in these and other nations in Africa, the new plan will focus on strengthening the economies of African nations. This will allow African nations to be more self-sufficient and will make them better prepared to address a range of security threats, including terrorism.

The goal of the Trump administration in the new U.S. Africa strategy is to help African nations become more self-sufficient and better able to take ownership of the security of the region. This strategy is closely aligned with the Department of Defense’s plans to reduce troop presence in Africa by 10 percent.

Efficient and Effective

In his speech, Bolton stated that the new U.S. Africa strategy will revisit the foundational principles of the Marshall Plan. Enacted in 1948 after World War II, The Marshall Plan was an American initiative to give aid to and help rebuild Western Europe. It legitimized U.S. foreign aid programs and opened markets for American goods. One way in which the Trump administration plans on making sure U.S. dollars are being used effectively and sticking to the principles of the Marshall Plan is by bypassing the United Nations. Coincidentally, the government will also reevaluate its support of U.N. peacekeeping missions.

What this Means for Africa

The economic focus of the new strategy has the potential to improve conditions in Africa. Under the new U.S. Africa strategy, United States aid must be invested in health and education, transparent governance and follow the rule of law. If these tenets are followed, the strategy may help African nations to become more self-sufficient and therefore better equipped to handle their own security issues.

Unfortunately, Bolton provided few details as to how the government plans on making sure the tenets are upheld. More information and examples of how the U.S. Africa strategy is to be enacted are needed to know if the new Africa strategy will be beneficial to all African nations.

– Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Google

Progress in U.S. Foreign PolicyRecent months have seen several instances of progress in U.S. foreign policy, specifically in terms of foreign aid initiatives. In the span of little over a month, from mid-June to late-July, four such initiatives have come one step closer to making it through Congress. These initiatives are described in the text below.

Global Food Security Reauthorization Act

On June 19, 2018, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 passed in the Senate, and is currently under consideration by the House of Representatives. If passed, the bill will renew the Global Food Security Act of 2016, allowing for continued U.S. assistance in efforts to eradicate chronic hunger and poverty in developing nations.

In 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) cited the number of people suffering from chronic hunger at 815 million, which is 10 million more than when the initial legislation was drafted. Of this number, 489 million people were living in areas experiencing conflict.

U.S. foreign assistance seeks to install agricultural development programs in target countries that will use innovative science and technology to make the most of agricultural resources. In fostering food security and economic growth, increased productivity in agriculture will alleviate both hunger and poverty, in addition to stabilizing populations that are especially vulnerable to conflict and environmental hardship. The stabilization of these countries ultimately bolsters U.S. national security.

Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act

The House of Representatives passed the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018 on July 17, 2018. It is now under review by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Globally, discrimination impedes women’s financial success in a number of ways:

  • Lower wages mean smaller incomes.
  • Laws and practices in some countries keep women from their rightful ownership of assets, as in the case of inheritance.
  • Gender-specific constraints have left over 1 billion women worldwide out of the formal financial system, depriving them of opportunities such as access to credit.

These factors all contribute to the reality that women comprise the majority of the world’s poor, rendering them more susceptible to violence, exploitation and poor health.

If this bill is implemented, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with countries to develop standards for gender equality and reduce gender violence. The agency will also support programs that establish and ensure equal rights to ownership and equal economic inclusion.

In 2016, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that women’s equal participation in economic activity would add $28 trillion to the global GDP by 2025.

Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act

July 17, 2018, saw another instance of progress in U.S. foreign policy with the House of Representatives also passing the BUILD Act. The bill has gotten through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is under further consideration by the Senate.

The BUILD Act would combine the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) with certain functions of USAID, creating the United States International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) to replace OPIC.

Through loans, investments and partnerships with American businesses, the USIDFC would encourage and facilitate the investment of American private sector resources in developing nations. In financing business endeavors in these countries, the bill serves to create jobs, thereby stimulating their economies. This economic stimulation would make developing countries capable to afford infrastructure development projects.

The ultimate aim of the BUILD Act is to reduce the need for U.S. foreign aid by catalyzing modern development and bringing relations closer to an equal partnership. Congress expects that the USIDFC will go beyond self-sufficiency to bring in revenue to the U.S. Treasury.

Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act

The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act made it through the House of Representatives on Oct. 3, 2017.  On July 26, 2018, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally passed the bill along to the Senate for consideration.

As of June 2018, disaster and conflict have displaced upward of 68 million people, out of whom 25 million are refugees. Over half of the refugee population are children, and almost four million of these children lack access to primary education. The average length of displacement is 26 years, meaning that the affected children are at risk of never receiving an education. And yet, as of 2016, under 2 percent of all foreign aid has gone toward ensuring education for children in need.

If enacted into law, the bill will mandate the U.S. to work with other countries in making education accessible to all displaced children. By educating children, countries combat poverty, exploitation and extremism, which thrives in areas of hardship. As its name suggests, the legislation would give special priority to girls, who are both economically disadvantaged and more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, human trafficking and child marriage.

Benefits of US Foreign Policy

Although these initiatives are designed to directly impact nations in need, each of them would also have an indirect positive impact in the U.S. and around the world.

Whether helping to stimulate the global economy, improving overall global health or ensuring that human rights that are upheld around the world, global interdependence means that progress in U.S. foreign policy could lead to progress around the globe.

The recent steps that Congress has taken to approve the foreign aid legislation cited above have brought hopes for this goal of becoming reality.

One simple way to find out more about these and similar issues is the direct contact with the Congress, which is easily possible through The Borgen Project, more specifically, through this link.

– Ashley Wagner
Photo: Flickr

Multilateral Aid Review ActThe Multilateral Aid Review Act calls for a complete review of The United States system for foreign assistance. It would also serve as the foundation for a Global Development Strategy for foreign aid and would assist in any potential reconstruction of U.S. developmental programs and efforts. Ultimately, the importance of The Multilateral Aid Review Act is that the bill provides a positive move towards evidence-based reforms as well as offers a potential substitution to the proposed budget cuts for international aid programs.  

A Bipartisan Group of Supporters

The importance of The Multilateral Aid Review Act can be seen by the bipartisan group of Senators who introduced the bill. Two Senators from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), introduced the legislation that will review and potentially enhance the effectiveness of The United States participation in foreign organizations as well as improve accountability. The Multilateral Aid Review Act is also cosponsored by a number of Senators including Todd Young (R-Ind.), Tim Kaine (D-Va), Marco Rubio (R-Fla), Michael Bennet (D-Colo), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) and Bob Casey (D-Pa).  

According to Senator Bob Corker, “American taxpayers deserve to know how our involvement in these organizations benefits this country (…) Establishing an interagency review process will give us a more thorough and objective way to evaluate the performance of these institutions.” Senator Chris Coons stated, “At a time when some question the value of foreign assistance, I am proud to lead this bill which will provide data to analyze the effectiveness of our investments with these agencies and others.”  

Oversite of How the Money is Allocated

The importance of The Multilateral Aid Review Act is that it will establish an “interagency task force” that will review the organizations that receive federal foreign aid assistance. The proposed task force will be led by The Department of State, but it would have to consult with Congress and various outside experts. It would assess each organization’s financial management practices. There are three specific areas that would be evaluated:

  1. The degree to which the organization meets their declared goals
  2. Ensuring those goals align with U.S. policies
  3. The effectiveness of pursuing U.S. objectives multilaterally

In March 2018, President Trump announced, as a part of his proposed budget, that an estimated 28 percent of current spending on foreign aid would be cut. Obviously, this would have an astronomical impact on countries facing extreme poverty and the organizations hoping to put an end to this issue.

To put this in perspective, there would be a 25 percent cut in global health programs, the impact of which would be seen across all sectors. A 68 percent cut would slash The Bureau for Food Security, which works to eliminate world hunger.  

Helping Countries in Need As Well As US Interests

The importance of the Multilateral Aid Review Act is that it allows for the possibility of protecting countries receiving foreign aid as well as organizations and programs working towards solving world issues. The truth of the matter is that The United States investing in foreign aid not only helps countries in need but it also can help America in several ways.

  • Foreign aid is an investment that can be returned by creating strong trading partnerships that will eventually bring both employment and income back into The United States.
  • The United States is safer because foreign aid helps resolve the conditions that led to instability, therefore, reducing the threat of violence and even terrorism.
  • Investing in foreign aid helps prevent epidemics, which ultimately save thousands of lives, not to mention thousands of dollars in aid in the event of an epidemic.
  • The United States participating generously in foreign aid boosts the country’s reputation, which opens up several opportunities, including allowing U.S. goals to be pursued.  

The Multilateral Aid Review Act is an extremely important piece of bipartisan legislation that will allow a more detailed review of where The United States foreign aid budget goes, therefore, ensuring it is spent in the right way. If passed, this bill will not only help The United States but also countries around the globe facing extreme poverty.

– Olivia Hodges
Photo: Flickr

Japan’s foreign policyJapan has an advanced transportation system, outstanding outcomes in the field of technology research and a matured business development model. As the world’s third-largest economy, Japan has been expanding its foreign policies to aid developing countries and boosts the global economy.

From Japan’s international cooperation on Pandemic Influenza to NERICA (New Rice For Africa), Japan plays an essential role in solving urgent and consistent poverty issues. Its foreign policies promote the progress of eliminating poverty worldwide. There are three cases of how Japan’s foreign policy solves global poverty problems.

Examples of Japan’s Foreign Policy

  1. NERICA: Food shortage is a continuous problem in Africa. The main reason is low production field. NERICA stands for New Rice for Africa. The Japanese government cooperated with the Africa Rice Center to introduce this program in 1992. This program is applied extensively in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).The Africa Rice Center cooperated with its partners to produce interspecific hybridization, which can combine advantages of two species to increase the yield of rice. In the meantime, the interspecific grains have better ability to tolerate drought, pest and disease. These grains have higher nutrition as well. Japan has adopted various plans to apply different irrigated rice production technology in Tanzania since the 1970s, which has boosted the yield of rice to three times larger than the national average.In 2014, the total production of milled rice in Uganda was 154,050 metric tonnes, but the consumption rate was 215,707 metric tonnes. NERICA plays a vital role to ameliorate the Ugandan food shortage problem by increasing rice varieties. Most farmers are planting NERICA rice because its mature time is shorter, the yield is higher and it is more tolerant to drought and viruses. For example, NERICA 6 is immune to Yellow Mortal Virus and NERICA 1 only takes 100 days to mature.NERICA is a typical example of how Japan’s foreign policy solves global poverty problems. It ameliorates African food shortage problems efficiently and provides an alternative way for people in SSA to access higher-nutrition and larger-yielding grains.
  2. STI: In September 2015, the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda lists 17 goals to eliminate global poverty issues in sustainable ways. Japan continuously contributes itself to achieve the 2030 Agenda.Japan has abundant human resources and advanced technology. It can help reach the agenda through STI, which stands for science, technology and innovation. STI can contribute to boosting development by using limited sources.Japan will contribute its extensive database, which covers from the ocean up to space, to facilitate the efficiency of international cooperation. In addition, Japan will facilitate people-centered development by offering consistent assistance in areas of information and communications technology, research and development, industrial human resources development and vocational training.In 2015, the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation was established to solve social issues and boost economic growth. The Japanese government will spend $1.8 billion on STI in the next three years mainly on high technology development which has international benefits.For example, outbreak alert innovation can reinforce surveillance of infectious diseases, and mobile innovation can facilitate the urban transportation system by using wireless communication for extension of green light. STI acts as a “bridging force” to connect Japan with the globe by assisting technology training processes and sharing developing STI experiences.
  3. Infrastructure Aid: Japan has consistently been sharing its sources on infrastructure building with other countries. For example, in September 2017, Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail was launched when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited India. This high-speed railway corridor stretches from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, which is a total of 508.17 km.This project is the symbol of cooperation between Japan and India. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered $12 billion in loans to build India’s first bullet train. In the meantime, the Japanese government agreed to bear 80 percent of the total project cost when Prime Minister Abe visited India in September of 2017. Assisting in building infrastructure is another way Japan’s foreign policy solves global poverty problems.

Overall, Japan’s foreign policy helps solve global poverty by sharing resources and advanced technology. For Latin America, Japan will promote its development by improving trade and investment to create a more comprehensive environment for economic growth. For the Middle East, Japan works on overcoming peace-building and human resources development, as well as a sustainable and stable energy supply. Japan’s foreign policy solves global poverty problems through science, technology and innovation.

– Judy Lu
Photo: Flickr

global economy is on the risePeople around the globe experienced the mania of the Dow Jones’ historic low in February 2018. Some traders even questioned if this was a sign of a global stock market crash. But as the U.S. stock market recovers from its volatile hijinks, global trade as a whole is rising, and rapidly. This rapid rise has many economists optimistic that the global economy is on the rise as well.

The global economy is driven by trade. As international trade rises, so do technological developments as nations tear down trade barriers. According to a report by the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economics Policy Analysis, the volume of imports and exports grew by 4.5 percent in 2017. To gain perspective, this is a significant spike from a stagnant 1.5 percent rate of growth the previous year, which was the lowest since the global financial crisis in 2007-2008.

Globalization a Reason Why the Global Economy Is on the Rise

The world is changing. Globalization moves the market, just as we move through our interconnected culture of technology, digital communications and transportation. As markets evolve, global poverty is decreasing, while the global economy is on the rise.

Old business practices are being phased out, technology is replacing hard labor and workers are rising to higher levels of efficiency. Automation is shifting the way goods and services are distributed, easing mass production.

Nations have outsourced businesses to developing nations, partly to reduce wage costs. Yet, business process outsourcing provides an oasis of income for people in developing countries such as India, the Philippines and Malaysia. In many places, this opportunity to earn a living would not be possible without outsourcing.

As technology advances, the market shifts and standards of living rise across the globe. Developing countries who have broken trade barriers have developed competitive advantages in the production of certain products. Ukraine, for example, is known as the breadbasket for its richness in wheat and farmland. Venezuela is known for its vast oil supply and China’s factories are known for producing more than half of the world’s clothing.

Tariff Reduction Has a History of Success in Developing Countries

History reveals that nations who open their economies to trade with the global economy experience faster growth and poverty reduction. During the past 30 years, global poverty has been cut in half. Studies show that developing countries that lowered tariffs in the 1980s experienced quicker economic growth in the 1990s compared to those that did not. Tariffs, or taxes on imports and exports between sovereign states, are often viewed as barriers affecting the global economy.

Developing nations have tariffs that are three to four times higher than industrial countries, and they are even higher on agriculture. Average tariff protection in agriculture is about nine times higher than in manufacturing. This can undermine a developing country’s agricultural sector and exports by depressing world prices.

The outlook for the global economy depends on these countries tearing down trade barriers. Yet, political decisions in developed countries are affected by trade barriers as well. In Venezuela’s case, the U.S. has imposed investor-related sanctions on Venezuelan oil to pressure its government to address its humanitarian crisis of inflation and starvation. According to Reuters, U.S. officials are not ruling out a complete ban on Venezuelan oil in order to send a strong message to its dictator, Nicolás Maduro.

Trade Wars Are Common and May Not Affect Global Trend

China’s trade practices have also affected U.S. trade on a political level. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, recently called on U.S. President Trump for equal and fair rules for cars, citing China’s pressure on foreign businesses to partner with Chinese carmakers before manufacturing in China. Musk noted China’s 25 percent import duty on cars compared to America’s 2.5 percent duty. President Trump proposed a sweeping tariff on steel and aluminum on March 8, 2018, which characterizes the trade wars.

Skeptics believe this political decision could take the global economy down the rabbit hole. Others are bracing for a global crash for different reasons. “I still believe that we’ll face a financial crisis within the next two years if we don’t solve the debt problems,” said Bjorn Ritschewald, a civil engineer with the government Road and Traffic office in Bremen, Germany, a city popular for its maritime trade. “Almost every country spends more than its income. Actually, I don’t know any country that spends less than what it takes in.”

“Waves in trade flow are common, but it depends on the goods,” Ritschewald told The Borgen Project. “You can’t just look at the financial numbers. You also have to look at the real amount of goods and which kind of goods are being sold.” World markets experienced the rippling effects of the Dow Jones’ plunge. The plunge is characterized as market correction, a phenomenon where unusual market success sparks panicked selling, driving market drops across the globe.

On the other hand, many economists believe that the global economy is on the rise. Their confidence stems from positive trade initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement set to be signed by 11 countries in March. The trade wars and other trade barriers are pitfalls that affect the global economy. However, with trade growth booming, there is much optimism in the air about a healthy global economy in the future.

– Alex Galante

Photo: Google

The Growing Importance of US-Israel Relations Today
The relationship between the United States and Israel is one of political, economic and historical significance. Over the years and with changes in economic objectives and priorities, the mutual diplomatic relationship of goodwill between the two nations has provided both countries with essential benefits in economic growth and development.

The Origins of U.S.-Israel Relations

Historically, the growth of U.S.-Israel relations can be traced back to the inception of Israel shortly after the World War II. Since May 14th 1948, the United States has played a vital role in providing aid, advice, resources and assistance to Israel. Between the years 1976-2004, Israel became the largest recipient of of U.S. foreign aid. The Arab-Israeli Wars through the course of the 20th century tested the strength of the staunch diplomatic ties between both nations.

U.S.-Israel relations have helped redefine ties with other Arab nations as well. The U.S. commitment to foreign aid such as humanitarian assistance already plays a key role in international conflicts. In recent years in particular, the United States has continued to play an active role in political discourse in the Middle East and is a vital part of peaceful solutions to crises.

The Trump Administration is now redefining the steadfast U.S.-Israel relations. In a controversial move, President Trump began recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Also, with a concrete two-state solution still not on the table, U.S.-Israel relations continue to be challenged.

The Startup Nation

Imbibing the strength of the relationship is vital due to the potential impacts the connection can have on the future. Israel has already contributed to U.S. defense, trade and commerce in numerous ways over the years. In turn, given the potential of Israel’s young and growing population and rich natural resources and assets, U.S. businesses hope to tap into this advantage to expand into new product and labor markets.

Moreover, Israel now already boasts a high annual economic growth which reached a peak at 4.7 percent in January 2017. Since 2003, poverty and income inequality rates in Israel have also largely declined. As Israel remains one of the world’s most advanced economies, it is commonly referred to globally as the ‘Startup Nation.’

Yet, at the same time, according to an estimate made in the year 2012, nearly 19.4 percent of families in Israel still live below the poverty line. Consequently, 1 in 5 Israelis are presumed to be affected by poverty prevalent in the country.

Trade

In the realm of trade, Israel’s trade to the United States is essential as the number of dollars created by exports from Israel create the highest number of U.S. jobs among its free-trading partners. For Israel, the United States remains a vital free- trading partner as it provides the country with an outlet for goods and services.

Furthermore, investment between the U.S. and Israel not only pumps in more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), but it also plays a significant role in bringing in more American jobs. Investments are now expanding in key aspects like science and technology, agriculture and healthcare; Israeli innovations continually contribute to higher levels of efficiency and productivity as well.

Growth and Future Achievement

In recent years, clean energy, technology and environmental solutions have grown to become priorities of international discourse; in fact, according to a report by the Washington Institute, innovation in Israel is currently focused on addressing water and food security issues globally. U.S.-Israel collaborations in research and development programs are particularly notable for its advancements and contributions to the financial strength of both countries.

To conclude, U.S.-Israel relations continue to be an important source of economic, potential and financial support to both countries — a partnership that continues to grow with time. This varied connection between the two countries will have greater implications in the future, and should also provide a good buffer against shocks in the world economy.

– Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The United States has a longstanding relationship with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that dates back to 1960. The current foreign policy consists of environmental protection and healthcare solutions for Congolese people, but recently, the U.S. has held more interest in the DRC because of its ongoing political and humanitarian turmoil. Members of Congress have urged Presidents Trump and Kabila to address the crisis in the Democratic Republic for the following reasons:

Terrorism

Although the U.N. has sent thousands of peacekeepers, the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues through terrorism. Several armed terrorist groups have been exploiting the DRC for its natural resources, which displaces and abuses Congolese people — an issue that has continued since mid-1990.

These armed militia groups use funds from illegally extracting minerals to take over weakly governed sections of the nation and terrorize its citizens; the DRC has an estimated $24 trillion worth of unmined resources.

Politics

Political instability has added more tension in the DRC when President Joseph Kabila postponed the 2016 election and continued as president after his term ended. President Kabila has stated the need for “political dialogue,” yet the police force in DRC have discouraged protesting, political expression and political gatherings.

Protesters have experienced extreme action against them by DRC police including the 2015 tear gassing of student protesters and the mass murder of over 40 protesters in January 2016.  The following September, the opposing political headquarters was burned down and an additional 44 protesters were killed.

Congolese Citizens

The crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo has caused Congolese citizens to suffer from extreme poverty, murder and sexual violence because of the ongoing terrorism and political instability. The lack of governance has created an environment in which radical groups are able to freely commit these acts against Congolese people.

On top of the ongoing crimes against DRC citizens, the U.N. and African Union have not promoted sustainable development within the nation.

And add fuel to the issues of development, disease, malnutrition, lack of education and poverty that the Congolese people face every day; many multinational companies have withdrawn their business of buying minerals from the DRC, which in turn has caused multiple job losses and contributed to the nation’s ongoing poverty issue.

U.S. Action

Democratic Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Benjamin Cardin (MD), Richard Durbin (IL), Christopher Coons (DE), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Edward Markey (MA), and Sherrod Brown (OH) have urged President Donald Trump to address the crises going on in the DRC.

In a letter to the U.S. President, the six senators urged Trump to improve the implementation of the Coal Minerals Rule, enacting stronger sanctions and nominating key senior State Department posts, all to help resolve the conflict within the nation.

These U.S. Senators addressed the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis as “increasingly worrisome” and requested action if the DRC government refuses to comply.

President Kabila also received a letter from concerned U.S. Senators from both parties, which requested and encouraged the DRC leader to allow peaceful protests and political gatherings, to release the political prisoners who are being held, and respect freedom of the press. The letter stated:

 

“If the [DRC] government continues to refuse to implement the spirit and letter of the [December 31st agreement between the Presidential Majority and a coalition of political opposition parties], the U.S. should use the means at our disposal—including sanctions designations under Executive Order 13671 on DRC, anti-money-laundering regulations, and additional tools available under the Global Magnitsky Act—to affect the incentives of individuals who have strong influence over President Kabila to incentivize them to urge him to change course.”

Crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The U.S. has consistently held a relationship with the DRC, with foreign policies that focus on developing the nation and promoting democracy.

Because of the ongoing crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States has goals to encourage development, and USAID has invested in the DRC to promote the following: implementing mandates, the improvement of Congolese livelihood by regional developments, and root for peace should begin in eastern DRC.

More action from the U.S. government, the United Nations and foreign aid to the suffering Congolese people will help the nation tackle these severe issues and ideally promote the growth it needs for success.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr