Trump Wants To Cut An Agency That Helps Small Farmers — And Makes Money For U.S. Taxpayers
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Donald Trump doesn’t know my colleague Richard Tugume. Richard has spent the last decade traveling around East Africa investing in early-stage businesses. Businesses like Furaha, a coffee cooperative that received and later repaid a loan that, in the end, generated a profit for American taxpayers. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that President Trump’s budget blueprint threatens to eliminate the very source of this investment capital and the benefits that it delivers.
Unlike many traditional foreign aid models, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) takes a market-based approach, mobilizing private sector capital for public good. It was established in 1971 and helps American businesses of all sizes expand to emerging markets. It does this by providing direct loans and guarantees as well as risk insurance, especially in situations where commercial financial institutions are reluctant or unable to lend. In other words, OPIC facilitates investments that likely wouldn’t happen otherwise.
The independent agency receives bipartisan support and has pursued its mission on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers for the past 39 consecutive years. In fact, last year, after returning every cent of the funding it received from Congress, OPIC topped up the U.S. government coffers with another $239 million that it earned as income.