In Brief: Blinken chairs first DFC board meeting of Biden admin

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo by: Ron Przysucha / State Department

Secretary of State Antony Blinken chaired the U.S. International Development Finance Corp.’s first board meeting of President Joe Biden’s administration Tuesday, praising the year-old agency and outlining some priorities.

“Other countries are aggressively moving to invest in global development. We want our model – with the transparency, good governance, and values that underpin the American approach to business and development – to win out. I’m convinced the DFC is critical to our success in leveraging our greatest strength – the private sector – and competing more effectively,” Blinken said at the meeting, according to a statement.

DFC slowed down approvals during the Biden administration’s first quarter. Its board approved only one investment: a $300 million loan to BTG Pactual supporting lending to small and medium-sized enterprises, with a focus on reaching economically disadvantaged regions and women-owned or -led businesses in Brazil. DFC had approved 19 other projects that didn’t require board signoff in the past quarter, and 65% of projects were in low- or lower-middle-income countries and fragile states.

US DFC looks to balance foreign policy and development mandates

During the Trump administration, the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. made numerous foreign policy-related commitments, but it may have overpromised what it would or should do.

Blinken’s priorities: Blinken mentioned addressing the climate crisis, strengthening global health security, collaboration with other development finance institutions, and “building an effective agency.” On that last point, he said the administration was committed to transparency, the best practices of corporate governance, and a respectful and collaborative work environment, according to the statement.

Why it matters: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo never chaired a DFC board meeting, instead delegating the authority to other State Department officials. Blinken’s participation sends a message about the importance that the administration will place on the agency. At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday, Blinken said that he was “extremely enthusiastic” about the agency and that it would be a “sustained focus” for him.

About the author

  • Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is a Senior Reporter at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.