SEATTLE, Washington — With the economic crisis the U.S. is experiencing because of the COVID-19 virus, leaders are focusing less on aiding developing countries. Cutting funding doesn’t benefit the U.S. or the impoverished nations. Investing in developing countries has proven to have enormous payoffs economically and otherwise. The U.S., along with nations worldwide, needs to continue foreign aid programs that not only support impoverished nations but stimulate the U.S.’s financial growth as well. Here are five reasons why aid to developing countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic benefits the U.S.
5 Reasons US Foreign Aid is Important
- It helps prevent the next pandemic. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, diseases have spread across the globe at a rapid rate. If developing countries had the resources necessary to maintain an epidemic, the spread of disease could be stunted. In an article published by GatesNotes, Bill Gates writes, “richer countries are […] more capable of preventing global epidemics.” Scientists have yet to develop an official vaccine for COVID-19, so the possibility of a second wave circling the globe in a few years is possible. It would be in the U.S.’s best interest to ensure that all countries are prepared for this possibility.
- It assists the U.S. economy by opening up new markets. Increasingly, more and more U.S. exports are going to developing countries. In 1985, 29.4% of U.S. exports went to developing countries. By 2011, 44.6% of U.S. exports were going to developing countries. This is a trend that significantly benefits the U.S. because it expands exportation possibilities. Amid the COVID-19 economic crisis, the U.S. should be investing more aid out of self-interest, not altruism. Justine Nolan, a human rights, business and corporate social responsibility researcher at the University of New South Wales, told The Borgen Project that “modern supply chains are global as is consumer demand for many American goods. I think it would be short-term thinking to confine assistance to U.S. borders.” The U.S. needs to consider its economy in the long-run, which means giving future markets the financial assistance they need to develop.
- It could create more U.S. jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate for May 2020 was 13.3%. For comparison, the unemployment rate of June 2018 was 4.0%. While some of these employment losses may be temporary, most people are facing financial insecurity and uncertainty. To replace some of these jobs, the U.S. should be investing in foreign aid programs. “Financial assistance might not only assist potential future consumers but also help local companies and workers get back to work in supplying U.S. goods,” said Nolan. By stimulating nations’ demand for American products, the U.S. can permanently fill in the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It keeps the U.S. out of conflict. Right now, the U.S. needs to focus on remedying the damage done by the pandemic. This is a considerable strain on the country, and the U.S. doesn’t want to put additional resources into conflicts overseas. One way to prevent this is to offer impoverished countries aid packages as a preventative measure. Aid can help developing countries reunite internal differences by changing their governance styles, such as from an oppressive regime to a democracy, making countries safer and healthier. Aid provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) helped 57 developing nations transition to democracies. Studies by both Brown University and Boston University shows that the U.S. has put $6.4 trillion into wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001. Providing aid to help these countries become safe could save the U.S. the financial burden of fighting expensive wars.
- It helps the U.S. to reclaim its identity as a global leader. In recent months, the U.S. has cut funding that previously assisted developing nations. From halting financing to the World Health Organization to providing zero aid to developing nations in the Houses’ $3 trillion COVID-19 aid package, the U.S. is cutting back on the assistance it offers to countries in need. Furthermore, by providing substantial aid to developing countries amid the pandemic, the U.S. sets an excellent example for other countries.
In this time of crisis, a natural reaction for some is to turn inward and focus on what resources the American people need. There are many reasons, however, why this reaction isn’t helpful. The urge to turn inward fails to take account of global realities. The U.S. needs to aid developing countries in the time of COVID-19, now more than ever. America is an international community in which the ability to thrive as a healthy nation both physically and economically depends on the well being of other countries.