Viewpoint: Will the BUILD Act Improve Lending in Poor Countries and Counter China? The Jury’s Still Out

Thursday, May 23, 2019

By James M. Roberts, Josh Cosby

During debate over the BUILD Act (Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act)—a bill that would rename and double the size of the Overseas Private Investment Corp.—proponents asserted that it was needed to counter China’s aggressive “One Belt, One Road” debt-trap diplomacy initiative that finances infrastructure projects in developing countries.

The question is, will BUILD, passed by Congress last year, counter China?

Judging by the Overseas Private Investment Corp.’s recent lending decisions, so far, the answer to that question appears to be “no.”

Why? First, because the majority of the Overseas Private Investment Corp.’s loan portfolio, as of the end of 2018, is still in upper-middle and high-income countries (excluding regional loans).

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development finance, infrastructure