As a matter of policy, the foreign policy of the US government and the financial support of developing countries are inseparable in the job description of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Under the general foreign-policy guidance of the US Secretary of State, the independent agency has the mission of expanding democracy and free markets while improving the lives of individuals in undeveloped and crisis-ridden areas of the world. USAID provides expertise and funding for projects in agriculture, democracy, economic growth, the environment, education, governance, global partnerships, health, and humanitarian assistance.
Spending less than one-half of 1% of the federal budget, USAID has projects in more than 100 countries. The organization has its origins in the Marshall Plan that helped to rebuild Europe after WWII. President John F. Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law in 1961 and formally created USAID by executive order.
Because of such factors as foreign direct investment being 10 times higher than all official development assistance, USAID is focusing more on partnerships with the private sector, such as one between PepsiCo and the World Food Programme. Pepsi is buying chickpeas from some 30,000 Ethiopian farmers to make a food paste that the World Food Programme will buy for malnourished children. Pepsi will also use the chickpeas to make hummus for worldwide distribution. USAID has also partnered with Citi to bring more access to mobile money technology for the two-fifths of the world's five billion mobile phone users who don't have banking service. With Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the agency has partnered to promote the development of coffee growing markets in Latin America and the Caribbean.
USAID investment can also bring benefits from the private sector. Eleven of the US' top export markets are current or former recipients of assistance. Taiwan, in particular, received about $100 million in US aid every year between 1949 and 1963. The agency reports that now tourists from Taiwan annually spend more than $1 billion every year in the US. In the manufacturing sector, USAID's predecessor, the International Cooperation Agency, provided $800,000 in grant money to assist in the establishment of Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics, which now employs about 2,110 in Delaware, Louisiana, and Texas.
USAID has also been focusing on partnerships with US military organizations. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, USAID partnered with the US Army Corps of Engineers for rebuilding. The agency's Office of Civilian Military Cooperation is particularly tasked with this strategy.
Another strategy is focused on decreasing the percentage of funds paid to Westerners in projects for the developing world. USAID has set a goal of disbursing 30% of its financial aid to local entrepreneurs, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and partner governments by 2015. – less
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