The Foreign Service Journal, February 2011

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 39 capacity of developing countries to collect resources internally for their own development, by com- bating corruption and improving fiscal transparency. Progress here could reduce dependence on for- eign assistance while creating room in donor budgets for new development expenditures. To ensure the proper use of U.S. aid, our bureau also evaluates the budget processes of all recipi- ent countries. Toward this end we are pursuing a Fiscal Transparency Enhancement Initia- tive in cooperation with other agencies and exploring op- tions for collaboration with multilateral donors and international financial institutions to improve the quality and accountability of public expenditures. EEB also works to relieve poor countries of unsustain- able debt burdens. We help ensure that countries under- take economic and policy reforms for prudent debt management through the Paris Club, an informal group of 19 official creditors, and through the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, a joint World Bank–IMF pro- gram begun in 1996 that encourages economic and finan- cial reforms aimed at creating debt sustainability. To date, 32 countries have completed the HIPC program, includ- ing Afghanistan, Haiti and Liberia. In total, the U.S. has forgiven over $2 billion in debt owed by these countries. Putting Remittances to Work. Shortages of capital remain one of the largest hurdles to sustainable economic growth in emerging economies. In 2010 alone, people from developing nations working abroad sent home more than $325 billion in remittances, according to the latest World Bank–IMF estimates, to sup- port friends and families — compared with approximately $126 billion in official development assistance in 2010, ac- cording to the OECD. Last September, we formalized partnerships with the governments of El Salvador and Honduras to develop and implement financing structures that channel remittance flows to investment. This effort, known as the Building Remittance Investment for Development, Growth and Entrepreneurship Initiative, is led by the State Depart- ment in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Overseas Private Investment Corpora- tion and the Inter-American De- velopment Bank. Working with Central Ameri- can banks and financial institutions already receiving workers’ remit- tances from the United States, BRIDGE enables a financial insti- tution to issue a debt instrument to raise capital, backed by the re- mittances flowing through it. By utilizing the guarantee and techni- cal assistance tools of each agency, it will enable access to lower-cost, longer-term investment capital. Moreover, the program helps ensure that capital is directed toward investment in critical sectors such as infrastructure and commercial de- velopment. BRIDGE is a great example of the close relationship between EEB and embassies. Foreign Service officers in San Salvador and Tegucigalpa were vital in facilitating needed assessments and securing local cooperation. We hope that these successes will be replicated elsewhere in the region and globally. Safeguarding Energy and Food Supplies Both bilaterally and through the G-20 process, State encourages the sharing of country data on oil demand, stocks and investment, and the elimination of economi- cally distorting fossil fuel subsidies. EEB also promotes energy diversification by assisting other countries to adopt low-carbon futures, through the promotion of renewable energy, sustainable biofuels and sound energy policies. For example, in April 2010 we collaborated with the U.S. Trade Development Agency to organize a Clean Energy Trade, Technology and Investment Forum inManila. This forum, co-sponsored by the Association for Southeast Asian Nations, promoted U.S. technology in a region that is increasingly eager to adopt it. EEB is also active in implementing the U.S.-Brazil bio- fuels initiative, which is advancing research, development and the use of biofuels in the hemisphere. Through this cooperation, the bureau is currently supporting activities in five countries in the Caribbean and Central America, as well as two countries in Africa. And at the November 2010 Americas Competitiveness Forum in Atlanta, I established the U.S.–Central American Renewable Energy Forum to advance clean energy use in this oil import-dependent re- F O C U S The Global Entrepreneurship Program promotes a business “ecosystem” that nurtures and rewards innovative businesspersons and establishes links with U.S. counterparts.