U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., has introduced the Economic Growth and Development Act to make it easier for the private sector to lead the way and be a true partner with U.S. government agencies in boosting economic development, fighting disease and alleviating poverty in developing countries around the globe.
Isakson's bill, S.3495, which is co-sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would require the State Department and U.S. development programs to coordinate and strategize with the private sector in each country that receives U.S. assistance to better incorporate the critical role of private investment and trade in uplifting those countries.
Isakson, who serves as the senior Republican on the Africa Subcommittee on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, believes that sustained economic growth is the key to improving developing countries, and the private sector is best suited to lead the way. In addition, better public-private coordination will result in more efficient use of U.S. foreign assistance and will help America's small- and medium-sized businesses more easily navigate the various U.S. development programs to learn what tools are at their disposal to help them invest in developing countries.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, introduced the companion bill, H.R.6178., in the House of Representatives.
"The power of the private sector must be fully harnessed if we are truly committed to reducing global poverty. People throughout the developing world depend on U.S. development programs, but in many cases these programs only treat the symptoms of poverty. Sustained economic growth through trade and private investment is the only thing that will lift developing countries out of poverty," said Isakson. "This legislation empowers businesses by giving them a seat at the table as the United States considers its development strategy and by helping them navigate complicated bureaucracy in order to understand the tools available to them."
Specifically, Isakson's bill establishes a liaison function between U.S. development agencies and the private sector, requires consultation with the private sector when developing country strategies and calls for ongoing studies into the factors that constrain private sector growth in each country that receives U.S. assistance.