The blog of Bill Gates
gatesnotes
The blog of Bill Gates

Giving Foreign Aid Helps America’s Economy

Sign In
 
GO
Your search for "", with selected filters, does not match any posts. Please try again with a different search term or reset filters.

Popular searches include: Books, Malaria, and Future of Food.
RELATED ARTICLES ON
Logout:


Become a Gates Notes Insider
- or - Sign up with email
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Send me updates from Bill Gates
Sign Up
Join the Gates Notes community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, subscribe to your favorite topics and more. We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Sign Up" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
Account Settings
VIEW & EDIT PROFILE
Your Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Password
Save
Cancel
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Deactivate Account
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process. Deactivate account If you want to permanently delete your account and remove its content, please send us a request here.
Ok
Gates Notes Insider Sign Up FAQ

Q. How do I create a Gates Notes account?

A. There are three ways you can create a Gates Notes account:

  • Sign up with Facebook. We’ll never post to your Facebook account without your permission.
  • Sign up with Twitter. We’ll never post to your Twitter account without your permission.
  • Sign up with your email. Enter your email address during sign up. We’ll email you a link for verification.

Q. Will you ever post to my Facebook or Twitter accounts without my permission?

A. No, never.

Q. How do I sign up to receive email communications from my Gates Notes account?

A. In Account Settings, click the toggle switch next to “Send me updates from Bill Gates.”

Q. How will you use the Interests I select in Account Settings?

A. We will use them to choose the Suggested Reads that appear on your profile page.

Forgot your password?
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Reset Password
Change your header photo
your image
 
Change
your image
Uh Oh!

The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.

Ok
First name
Last name
Enter a first and last name. For example, "Richard Feynman"
Bio
0/160 characters
Edit Profile
Account Settings
Save
Cancel
Suggested Reads
Reset your password.
Set New Password
Your password has been reset. You will now be redirected to the sign in page, or you can click here
Ok
Get emails from Bill Gates
Send me updates from Bill
You must provide an email
This email is already registered
Continue
We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Continue" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
 
your image
Uh Oh!
The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.
Ok
Welcome FirstName!
You are now a Gates Notes Insider
Update Your Profile Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Select Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Continue
Confirm
Are you sure you want to
deactivate your account?
Deactivating your account will unsubscribe you from Gates Notes emails, and will remove your profile and account information from public view on the Gates Notes. Please allow for 24 hours for the deactivation to fully process. You can sign back in at any time to reactivate your account and restore its content.
Deactivate My Acccount
Go Back
Your Gates Notes account has been deactivated.
Come back anytime.
Welcome back
In order to unsubscribe you will need to sign-in to your Gates Notes Insider account
Once signed in just go to your Account Settings page and set your subscription options as desired.
Sign In
Request account deletion
We’re sorry to see you go. Your request may take a few days to process; we want to double check things before hitting the big red button. Requesting an account deletion will permanently remove all of your profile content. If you’ve changed your mind about deleting your account, you can always hit cancel and deactivate instead.
Submit
Cancel
Thank You! Your request has been sent
Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions
Sign up to receive occasional updates from the Gates Notes
Sign Up
Privacy Policy
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
This verification token has expired.
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
Your account has been deactivated. Sign up to re-activate your account.
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
The blog of Bill Gates
Giving Foreign Aid Helps America’s Economy
Profile & Settings
Sign Out
Hello,
Profile & Settings
Comment History
Sign Out
0
0
0
3 people liked your comment
12 years ago
It looks like you're using an older version of Internet Explorer which may not display all the features on this site. Upgrade Now » close
Business Boost

Giving Foreign Aid Helps America’s Economy

I’m a big fan of America’s investments in the health and well-being of the world’s poor. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way. In fact, some in Washington D.C. have proposed dramatic cuts in foreign assistance.

That would be a terrible mistake. Last month I wrote about how foreign aid helps keep Americans safe. In this post, I want to show how smart health and development programs promote America’s economy, and how cutting back on these investments could backfire on American workers.

(As I said in my previous post, these security and economic arguments aren’t what inspired Melinda and me to get involved in global health. What inspired us was the chance to save children from dying of preventable diseases. But over the years I’ve come to see the connection to America’s security and economy as well.)

I start from the simple premise that everyone is better off when there are more middle-income countries in the world. As a country climbs up the economic ladder, you see concrete improvements in the lives of its people. Richer countries are less likely to go to war and more capable of preventing global epidemics. And they can afford to buy more products from other countries, including the United States.

Here’s one example from my experience with Microsoft. From our earliest days, we intended to expand into markets beyond the United States. In 1986, we chose Tokyo for the site of our first foreign office. That bet paid off phenomenally well. For a time, we sold more software in Japan than anywhere else.

You may be thinking, “Of course an ambitious software company would want a foothold in Japan.” But it wasn’t always so obvious. Just a few decades before we opened our Tokyo office, Japan had been devastated by World War II. Its economy and infrastructure lay in ruins. How did they recover? Among other things, through smart aid programs from the United States and others. By the 1980s Japan’s economy was booming, and the country presented a great opportunity for companies like us. To this day, sales there are a key part of Microsoft’s success and these sales have produced many jobs in Japan and America alike.

Microsoft’s experience in Japan is part of a larger trend that’s still going on today, as more countries join the ranks of the middle class. Countless U.S. companies are doing business in places that used to get American aid but have become self-sufficient, including South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Here’s another way that U.S. investments abroad help American businesses: by connecting them directly with new customers and suppliers. America’s chief aid agency, USAID, uses its expertise to encourage private companies to collaborate on projects. For example, they have worked with Cargill and Land O’Lakes to help dairy farmers in East Africa raise their productivity, increasing the value of the companies’ exports to places like Kenya and Uganda. As the companies’ CEOs wrote, “This benefits not only the farmers in Africa, but food producers and their workers in the United States and it promotes goodwill in a part of the world that can be a market for more American goods in the future.” USAID has also worked with Walmart to train thousands of women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, and with Starbucks, Keurig, and others to help coffee farmers in Latin America improve their crops so they can join the global market.

These and other efforts are part of America’s global economic leadership. Pulling back now would mean retreating from the world stage at a time when other countries are doubling down on their investments. It would deprive American companies of potential new markets and make them less competitive, while also harming the health and productivity of some of the poorest people in the world. It wouldn’t be robbing Peter to pay Paul; it would be robbing Peter and then robbing Paul too.

So it’s good for the American economy when other countries join the middle class. But how much credit does aid deserve for making that happen?

It’s a hard question to answer; growth has many causes. My own conclusion, based on years of looking at the evidence and discussing it with experts, is that although aid may not directly cause growth, there is a strong indirect connection between the two. Moving to the middle class requires a strong education system and good infrastructure, nutrition, and healthcare—and smart, targeted aid can promote those things pretty effectively.

Fighting AIDS, for example, saves lives, and it increases productivity because societies are stronger when they have healthy teachers, police officers, and entrepreneurs. Countries that worked with PEPFAR—America’s phenomenally successful effort to slow the AIDS epidemic—improved three times more on one measure of economic development than their non-PEPFAR counterparts.

Their per-capita income also grew quickly. Between 2005 and 2015, for example, Tanzania’s per-person income went up more than 37 percent. Zambia’s went up 55 percent. Ethiopia’s rose 107 percent. And as these countries grew, so did their appetite for American goods. In the same time frame, U.S. exports to Tanzania rose by more than 77 percent, U.S. exports to Zambia went up 189 percent, and to Ethiopia, 241 percent.

Many other countries are making similar gains. The point is not that aid directly makes poor people richer. It’s that aid helps create a foundation for growth. Along with many other factors, it helps remove some of the barriers that keep people from making the most of their talents. And when people in one place do better, the rest of us do better too.

We can build on this progress if the United States helps maintain the momentum. Investments in aid—which account for less than 1 percent of the federal budget—are an essential part of the solution. We need to keep making them on behalf of Americans and people around the world. 

Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions

Read previous versions of the Annual Letter

Comments
posting ...
Please verify your email in order to make comments. Click here to resend verification email
Sorry, duplicate comments are not allowed. 
Sorry, that HTML is not allowed. 
Sorry, something went wrong. 
Be the first to leave a comment.
Comment Locked
Comments more than 2 months old are locked. For more information, contact us.
Delete Comment?
Deleting this comment will remove replies to this comment by you and others as well. This action cannot be undone.
Delete Comment
Why do you want to report this comment?
It's annoying or not interesting
It's abusive and/or vulgar
It's spam
Report Comment
Your report has been submitted.
Close
Save
Cancel