China-suspicious lawmakers seek to boost U.S. investment in the Caribbean
In addition to grants to the region, lawmakers want to see more loans guaranteed by the federal government. But getting there was tricky.
The American International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) was established by Congress in 2019 to provide government-backed infrastructure loans to low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Although lawmakers wanted the DFC to be a more attractive alternative to developing economies than China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, in practice it has been difficult for Caribbean countries to obtain loans because many island economies are slightly too developed to qualify under the terms of the bank.
“Unless you change programs, the income levels are too high and the difficulty of getting special exceptions is complicated,” said Ellis, a research professor of Latin American studies at the US Army War College.
Testifying before the House in June, Barbara Feinstein, Acting Senior Deputy Administrator of USAID’s Latin America and Caribbean Office, acknowledged that income thresholds have been a “barrier” to greater Caribbean participation in DFC.
“Caribbean countries are essential partners in promoting prosperity, stability and development throughout the Western Hemisphere,” DFC spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said in an emailed statement. “DFC is committed to supporting investments that address critical development challenges in the Caribbean, including to address climate change, strengthen health systems, promote gender equality and advance the Internet, connectivity and technology. “