Trump vs. Biden: A Development Perspective on the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election


Author: Zeng Lu

With only one week left before the US presidential election, the campaign between Trump and Biden has entered the final sprint. Traditionally, U.S. presidential elections have rarely touched on issues related to international development. However, international development issues such as the COVID-19 epidemic, global health, and climate change have received widespread attention in this year’s presidential campaign debates. The results of the election will also have a profound impact on the future international development of the United States and the world. have an important impact on the pattern.

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The United States is the world’s largest foreign aid donor and the main maker of multilateral rules.

The United States is the world's largest economy and largest provider of foreign aid. In 2019, the total official development assistance of the United States was US$39.2 billion, 45% higher than Germany, which ranked second. The United States is also the main formulator of multilateral international order rules after World War II and plays an important role in the international development cooperation system.

Trump negatively affects U.S. foreign aid

The Trump administration's initiatives such as reorganizing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), establishing the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and launching women's empowerment projects have gained widespread support. At the same time, Trump has had a negative impact on U.S. foreign aid and even international development. Widespread negative impacts.

Trump linked development assistance to national security and economic growth, affecting the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid. The Trump administration has proposed cutting aid budgets three times and canceled congressional foreign aid appropriations twice. It has adjusted the scale of aid to some countries out of political motives and exchanged aid for some countries and institutions to support U.S. interests. These practices highlight Trump's priorities. U.S. commercial and strategic interests disregard development outcomes and impacts.

The Trump administration has withdrawn from multilateral institutions, causing the United States' international influence to shrink. The Trump administration attempted to significantly cut funding to the United Nations; withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other multilateral agreements and United Nations agencies; and as the COVID-19 epidemic raged around the world, it attacked and withdrew from the World Health Organization (WHO) , abandoning the basic rules of the US-led global order.

Trump's attacks on and withdrawal from United Nations agencies have also had a negative impact on the global governance system. Multilateral institutions are important platforms for international cooperation among countries. The Trump administration's actions have led to a regression in international cooperation and increasingly fragmented global forces.

Trump advocates aid to serve "America First"

If re-elected, the Trump administration will continue to promote foreign aid to serve the "America First" strategy, including:

  • Abandon multilateralism.Trump believes that multilateral organizations are inefficient and unable to serve US interests. The United States announced this summer that it would suspend funding for the World Health Organization and sign a withdrawal agreement. If Trump is re-elected, the agreement will officially take effect during Trump's second term. Trump is expected to continue to advocate reducing funding for international organizations and may withdraw from more United Nations agencies during his second term.
  • Politicizing foreign aid.Trump is expected to continue using aid to pressure foreign governments and international institutions to adopt policies that benefit the United States. Trump advocates reducing international development cooperation that does not benefit the United States and may continue to push for cuts in foreign aid budgets.
  • Ignore climate change.Trump led the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, dealing a major blow to global action on climate change. Trump withdrew more than 70 environmental and climate regulations during his term. If Trump is re-elected, this trend is expected to continue, which may lead to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the United States by 1.8 billion tons by 2035. This increase will exceed that of Russia. annual emissions.

Biden values U.S. global responsibilities in international development

If successfully elected, the Biden administration is expected to make international development an important pillar of foreign policy and vigorously promote the United States to assume global responsibilities in global multilateral partnerships and important international development issues. This will include:

  • Promote U.S. leadership in global multilateral partnerships and important international development issues.Cooperate with other countries, support multilateral organizations, regain the trust and confidence of allies and the international community in the United States, and jointly respond to global challenges; reshape the United States' global leadership in the field of international development, thereby promoting U.S. security and prosperity.
  • Putting climate change at the center of development policy.Biden believes that climate change poses a threat, but will also create opportunities for green transformation. If elected, he will lead the United States to return to the Paris Agreement and pass a $2 trillion plan to achieve the transition from fossil energy to renewable energy. and help low-income countries cope with climate challenges.
  • Provide leadership in global health.Biden believes that the United States should help lead the global response to the COVID-19 crisis, return to the World Health Organization and provide full support for it, build a global alliance to respond to future global health challenges, and lay the foundation for the United States to maintain continued leadership in the field of global health security.

The differences between Trump and Biden reflect the divisions in American society

Trump's "America First" approach echoes the tradition of isolationism in American politics, and also responds to the view of some Americans that participation in international affairs has become a burden for the United States and that globalization has brought losses.

Biden’s proposition that the United States assumes global responsibilities in the field of international development is more in line with the tradition of U.S. foreign policy after World War II. In line with the practices of previous U.S. presidents, the United States attaches great importance to U.S. global leadership and multilateralism as important tools for establishing a "rules-based order."

We will continue to pay attention to the outcome of "America First" and "Assuming Global Responsibility".

This article was first published on the WeChat public account "International Development Observation". All rights reserved, please indicate the author and source when reprinting.

Comment (4)

  • Moonlight| December 11, 2020

    It’s basically clear

  • Petite Ali| December 13, 2020

    This angle is innovative

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