As a new policy tool, the new US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will constantly be pulled in different directions.
The DFC has three mandates: (1) deliver development outcomes, (2) support US foreign policy, and (3) don’t lose money by financing only commercially viable projects. DFC’s predecessor agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), sometimes struggled to balance these (often conflicting) goals. DFC has even more pressures:
- A $60 billion credit line along with high expectations of spending quickly
- The new European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019, which exempts the agency from development objectives for certain energy projects in Europe and Eurasia
- An entirely new mandate to temporarily support domestic production of medical equipment under the Defense Production Act
How to know if the agency’s development mandate is really losing out? A simple step would be to combine DFC’s planned project impact scoring system with country income classifications to tag every project with a green, yellow, or red traffic light. Aggregating the entire portfolio by this filter would provide a snapshot of the portfolio's balance over time. Ben Leo and I proposed a version of this idea to OPIC a few years ago. Today, it seems more urgent than ever for the DFC.
You can read more in my one-page memo to the DFC’s CEO below.
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