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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 21, 2008
President Bush Attends White House Summit on International Development
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
1:22 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Madam President. Madam President I could not think of anybody better to give me dancing lessons than you. (Laughter.) We love you. I love your spirit. I love your leadership. I love the example you set for leaders all across the globe. And it's an honor to be here with you. (Applause.)
And it's an honor to be here with you all. I welcome you to the White House Summit on International Development. It's a summit to herald the outstanding work being done to lift up souls in need. I appreciate the fact that folks in this room represent thousands that are replacing disease with health, dependency with self-reliance, and despair with hope.
The people gathered here come from different countries -- I see we represent different professions -- but we're united by our commitment to charting a new era in development. Today I'm going to talk with you about this new philosophy, about the way it's transforming countries and saving lives, and about why it's essential to continue in the years ahead.
Before I do so, I want to recognize not only the President, but her son, Robert. I suspect your mother tells you what to do like my mother tells me what to do. (Laughter.) As a matter of fact, your mother tells me what to do. (Laughter.) Welcome.
Congressman Donald Payne, we're sure proud you're here; thank you, Mr. Chairman, for coming. (Applause.) Much of the success of the programs we've implemented are due to, one, the generosity of the American people, but also the fine group of people that are implementers: Henrietta Fore, the Administrator of USAID; Rob Mosbacher, President and CEO of OPIC; Ambassador John Danilovich, Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO; Ambassador Mark Dybul, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator; Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, U.S. Malaria Coordinator. Thank you all for being leaders. (Applause.)
The second choice to introduce me was Bob Geldof, musician. Of course, he'd have got up and said, I saw him try to sing while in Africa. (Laughter.) I've come to really appreciate Bob Geldof. He is a genuine person who has used his fame to help others in need, and it is a -- it's been a joy to work with you. You know, you and I might look differently, but I think we share the same compassion and the same hopes. And thank you for joining us today. (Applause.)
I want to thank the panelists who have participated in this conference. I do want to welcome members of the Diplomatic Corps; thank you all for coming by today.
You know, we meet today in the middle of a serious global financial crisis. Over the past few weeks, we have seen how the world's economies are more interconnected than ever before. The crisis is having a major impact on working people all over the world -- including many in developing nations.
During times of economic crisis, some may be tempted to turn inward -- focusing on our problems here at home, while ignoring our interests around the world. This would be a serious mistake. America is committed -- and America must stay committed -- to international development for reasons that remain true regardless of the ebb and flow of the markets. We believe that development is in America's security interests. We face an enemy that can't stand freedom. And the only way they can recruit to their hateful ideology is by exploiting despair -- and the best way to respond is to spread hope.
We believe that we ought to remain committed to development because it's in our long-term economic interests. When America helps developing nations rise out of poverty, we create new markets for our goods and services, and better jobs for American workers. And we're committed to development because it's in our moral interests. I strongly believe in the timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We are a blessed nation and I believe we have a duty to help those less fortunate around the world. We believe that power to save lives comes with the obligation to use it. And I believe our nation is better when we help people fight hunger and disease and illiteracy.
For all of these reasons, this administration has made international development one of our biggest priorities. As the President mentioned, we've worked with partner nations -- as well as the World Bank, and the IMF, and the African Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank -- to relieve tens of billions of dollars in debt from some of the world's poorest nations. By relieving crushing debt burdens, it gives people hope. We've also worked with wealthier nations to provide aid in the form of grants instead of loans. For the past eight years, the United States has provided more foreign assistance than at any time in the past half century.
We're using this aid to foster sustainable economic growth, and promote good governance, and advance a model of true partnership that gives poor nations a real stake in their own development. We're encouraging volunteer organizations, local charities, and the faith community to take on an even greater role -- because we strongly believe that they offer a compassion that no government can offer. Most of all, we're insisting on accountability in return for our assistance, so we can assure that our generosity leads to measurable results. You know, for too long, foreign aid was designed to make us feel good. Now, we're ensuring that our resources do good.
This new approach to development is embodied by a revolutionary initiative called the Millennium Challenge Account. See, this program says that the United States will help. But we expect countries that we help to fight corruption and to govern justly. There's nothing more pitiful than to have people's hopes robbed by corrupt government officials. We say to those we want to help support, open markets to trade and investment, and above all, invest in your people's health and education. You see, by tying our aid to these policies, we are encouraging developing nations to make tough economic and political and social reforms. We encourage leaders to respect their citizens, uphold human dignity, and work to earn the trust of their people. This approach is based on a clear conviction: People in the developing world have the capacity to improve their own lives -- and they will rise to meet high standards.
I refuse to accept the development model that says, oh, these people are doomed forever; let's just throw money at the problem. We believe that if you set high standards, good people will rise to meet those standards, regardless of where they live in the world. So the Millennium Challenge Account is a robust program that has invested $6.7 billion in 35 countries around the world. From Albania, to Moldova, to Indonesia, to Mongolia, to Paraguay, to Peru, these partnerships are helping developing nations take charge of their future -- and more importantly, unleash the talents of their people.
For example, this February President Kikwete of Tanzania and I signed a five-year, nearly $700 million compact to improve the country's transportation, energy, and water supply. It's pretty basic needs, isn't it? Transportation, energy and water supply. The partnership will build roads that connect rural Tanzanians to markets and schools and health clinics. It's hard to have a modern society if you can't get your product from rural to urban -- urban centers in your country. It's hard to get doctors to help people in the rural part of the country if you don't have roads to connect health care clinics to those in need. It's going to extend electricity to homes and businesses in some of the most remote areas of the country. It will increase access to clean drinking water, which will help reduce preventable diseases, especially in young children. Through these projects, the Millennium Challenge compact is helping Tanzania build a foundation for success in the 21st century -- and showing the promise of a new era in development.
In the new era of development, America and our partners are helping to meet basic human needs like food and clean water. There's nothing more basic than food and clean water. Since 2002, the United States has provided more than $16 billion in food assistance -- helping to ensure that tens of millions of people around the world do not go hungry. In response to the current global food crisis, we've committed $5.5 billion to address global hunger over the next two years. And that's important. These are stopgap measures. The American people care when they hear people are going hungry around the world. And I want to thank the American people for their generosity.
But as we work to resolve the crisis in the long run, we have got to find better solutions for global hunger in the long-term. In the short run we're helping; in the long term, we're developing a strategy and working with partners to help them grow their own food. There's no other way to put it. The best long-term policy for the United States is to help nations develop their own agricultural industry, so we don't have to deal with global food crisis year in and year out.
And so we supply poor and rural farmers with fertilizer and water-management systems. We distribute better seeds that will boost yields, and invest in research that will make crops like rice and wheat more resistant to drought and pests. You know, one of the really important challenges that this administration has taken on, and future administrations must take on, is to say to other markets around the world: It is okay to import markets to crops grown with biotechnology. A lot of countries are resistant upon introducing these new technologically advanced crops because they fear they're not going to be able to sell their crops elsewhere. And yet these crops will help people realize a vibrant agricultural industry.
I believe that as the United States moves forward, we ought to purchase up to a quarter of our food from local farmers. In other words, of all the food aid we get we ought to take a quarter of that, Donald, and purchase the food directly from local farmers. If it's in our interest to help build a local agricultural industry, then instead of just giving food, we ought to purchase food from the farmers themselves, to help build a vibrant agricultural sector in parts of the world where food is desperately needed. And I support the World Bank's strategy to increase investment in agriculture. (Applause.)
What I'm telling you is there's a better way than just a kind of patchwork approach. It's an approach that basically says we can use our technological advancement and our expertise to help build vibrant agricultural industries in nations where there ought to be crops today.
The United States works with partner nations to deal with the lack of clean water. Last year we dedicated nearly a billion dollars to improve sanitation and water supplies in developing nations. We're also wise enough to enlist the private sector to help, as well.
I want to share with you an interesting program -- for two reasons, one, it's interesting, and two, my wife thought of it -- (laughter) -- or has actually been involved with it; she didn't think of it. But she thought of it for this speech. She has been involved with a public-private partnership called the PlayPumps Alliance. It brings together international foundations and corporations and the U.S. government. Now, catch this: PlayPumps are children's merry-go-rounds attached to a water pump and a storage tank. When the wheel turns, clean drinking water is produced. And as my good wife says, PlayPumps are fueled by a limitless energy source -- (laughter) -- children at play.
The United States is working with our partners to install 4,000 pumps in schools and communities across sub-Sahara Africa, which will provide clean drinking water to as many as 10 million people. It's not that hard to help people get clean drinking water. It takes focus, imagination, and effort. And I call upon all nations around the world to join us. (Applause.)
In the new era of development, America and our partners recognize that education is the gateway to prosperity and essential to any society's long-term success. It's pretty obvious, isn't it? If people are educated, they can read the instructions on a medicine bottle. They can keep receipts for a small business. They can learn about the rights and privileges they have under their country's constitutions. Yet too many people can't read. America and our partners are determined to extend the promise of good education to more people in the developing world.
In the Middle East, USAID has partnered with local officials to start kindergartens in Jordan, taught hundreds of thousands of children about information technology in Morocco, built 70 schools for girls in Egypt.
Through our Africa Education Initiative, as the President mentioned, the United States has trained more than 700,000 teachers. I think you said a million teachers? Yes, I'll go for a million then. (Laughter and applause.) Somewhere between 700,000 and a million. (Laughter.) Distributed more than 10 million textbooks -- somewhere between 10 million and 15 million -- and provided hundreds of thousands of scholarships to help girls go to school.
Last year I announced a new initiative that will devote $425 million to improve education in Ethiopia and Ghana and Honduras and Liberia and Mali and Yemen. Why? Why do we do that? Because the truth of the matter is, we want children to fulfill their God-given potential, is why we do that. And so we're helping to train the doctors and the lawyers and the engineers and entrepreneurs and the women Presidents who will be vital to the future of the developing world. (Applause.)
In the new era of development, America and our partners are helping to lift the burden of deadly disease. In Africa, the treatable and preventable disease of malaria kills one child every 30 seconds. So in 2005 I launched a five-year, $1.2 billion initiative that cut the number of malaria-related deaths in 15 African nations by half.
Through the initiative, we joined with African governments -- notice, "we joined with African governments" -- to design malaria control strategies that will work with their nations. We expect results for the money we spend. And yet we're confident when we work with governments that they can develop the strategy necessary to achieve the objectives. And so we supply the money, and our partner nations work to distribute insecticide-treated bed nets, conduct indoor spraying campaigns, and provide cutting-edge drugs.
The interesting thing about this initiative is it's easy to measure whether or not we're being successful. In the new development agenda, results matter a lot. And therefore, when the United States works with countries, we expect there to be a well-defined strategy and the ability to measure whether or not our money is working. I don't think that's too much to ask, nor do the people who are trying to help think that's too much to ask.
So far, our efforts have reached 25 million people. In places like Zambia, and Ethiopia, and Rwanda, and Zanzibar, the numbers of people sick or dying from malaria have dropped dramatically. We have not only made progress around the edges, we've made dramatic progress in saving lives. I find that the work to defeat malaria is exciting work, and it is inspiring work. And frankly, it's not all that hard to design a strategy to get bed nets to people. And I want to thank my fellow citizens for caring deeply about this initiative. And I want to thank our partners for working hard to make sure that a mom won't have to worry about her child dying because of a mosquito bite. (Applause.)
The President talked about our fight against HIV/AIDS. And it's a noble battle and it's a necessary battle. In 2003, as she had mentioned, we launched PEPFAR. The program is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in human history. (Applause.) Ambassador Dybul and I believe that the program is effective because it is defined by a few key principles. You know, if you're going to have a new era of development, it's important to have clear definitions. It's one thing just to throw money at the problem, it's another thing to insist upon strategies that actually work. So the emergency plan demands specific measurable targets for progress. His job is to not only put the implementers in place and to find those souls who are on the front lines of saving lives and empower them; his job is to report back to the President and say, "Here is the progress we're making, Mr. President." That way it gives me a chance to say, "Well, if you're not making enough progress Mark, do something differently, please."
It employs a prevention strategy that works: ABC, which means abstinence, be faithful, and use condoms. This isn't guesswork; this is a program that is working. It puts local partners in the lead, because they know the needs of their people best. It enlists new partners from the international community, the private sector and the faith community.
I can't tell you how many people that I've met in the United States who say, "I'm part of PEPFAR, because my church has adopted the program." You know, there's nothing better than having people who hear the universal call to love a brother like you'd like to be loved yourselves on the front line of helping to save lives.
And the United States government is smart enough to enlist the compassion and love and hard work of people in the faith community in the United States to help our brothers and sisters in need. So far, the results are striking. When we launched the initiative in 2003, only 50,000 people in sub-Sahara Africa were receiving anti-retroviral treatment.
Today we support treatment for nearly 1.7 million people in the region, and tens of thousands of more around the world, from Asia, to the Caribbean, to Eastern Europe. PEPFAR has supported care for nearly 7 million people, including millions of orphans and vulnerable children. PEPFAR has allowed nearly 200,000 children in Africa to be born HIV-free. PEPFAR is working. And I want to thank the United States Congress for coming together to re-authorize and dramatically expand this program. (Applause.)
I'm sure that many of you had the same experiences that Laura and I've had in meeting people whose lives have been touched by the initiatives we're talking about today. I'll never forget meeting Harriet Namutebi. She is -- we met her in Africa on our trip five years ago. She lost her brother, her husband, and one of her children to AIDS. She was diagnosed, she locked herself in her room, she refused to eat, and she wanted to die.
But at a clinic supported by PEPFAR, Harriet was given a new lease on life. Counselors at the clinic showed Harriet how to live positively with HIV. A loving soul took this person who was in despair and said, here's a chance for you.
Thanks to the antiretroviral treatments Harriet received, she is now in good health. She cares for four children. She is an enthusiastic member of the clinic's drama group, which educates others about HIV. She is living proof of what people in Africa call the "Lazarus Effect" -- communities once given up for dead are now being brought back to life. And it is a joy to be a part of PEPFAR. (Applause.)
In the new era of development, we are working with partners to unleash the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known, and that is free trade. For developing nations, the value of trade is nearly 40 times the value of foreign aid. Let me repeat that: For developing nations, the value of trade is 40 times the value of foreign aid. Isn't that an interesting statistic? What should that tell you? It says if you're interested in helping the developing world, promote trade. That's what it ought to tell you.
According to the World Bank, the complete elimination of barriers to trading goods would boost annual income in developing countries by more than $140 billion. I think that would go a long way, don't you, Madam President?
You know, trade opens growth, ignites growth, but it also produces other benefits. It helps increase transparency. It helps increase the rule of law. During my administration we have worked hard to reduce barriers to trade and investment. When I took office, we had free trade agreements in effect with three nations. Today, we have them with 14 nations; most of them are developing countries. (Applause.)
My predecessor, President Clinton, did a smart thing with the African Growth and Opportunity Act. My administration had the honor of extending that Act. In 2005, I worked with Congress to pass a free trade agreement with the Dominican Republic and nations in Central America -- it's called CAFTA. And although it's still in its early stages, trade between participating countries with the U.S. is up 30 percent since its enactment. Do you know what that means? That means more jobs for workers in those countries. It means more food for families. It means more investment that developing countries need to grow and prosper. That's what that means.
Trade is essential to prosperity in both good economic times and bad. During periods of crisis, like the one we're in now, protectionism may seem like the best way to safeguard wealth. But when major economies try to wall themselves off, they deny themselves the growth that comes from exports and deepen poverty by depriving poor nations of vital markets for their goods. You see, in the midst of this crisis, I believe the world ought to send a clear signal that we remain committed to open markets by reducing barriers to trade across the globe. The recent impasse in the Doha Round of trade talks is disappointing, but that doesn't have to be the final word. And so before I leave office, I'm going to press hard to make sure we have a successful Doha Round. (Applause.)
In this new era of development, countries that make the courageous choice to embrace democracy must realize the economic benefits that go with it. When young democracies do not deliver improvements in their people's daily lives, the people start to lose faith in free societies; that's a fact.
For example, let's talk about our own neighborhood. I believe it's in our interest that we have a good, sound neighborhood. It's in our interest our neighborhood prosper and get along. And we've seen hopeful advances for democracy and free enterprise in North and South America. There's no doubt about it. There's been some amazing advances. Yet there's also voices that challenge free markets and democratic values -- quite loud voices. Some of them have gained a following, because amid the progress in our hemisphere, we also see terrible want. What the campesinos and trabajadores want is -- what they don't need is false populism; what they do need is social justice. And the development aid of the United States has been focused on providing social justice in our neighborhood.
True social justice requires creating new opportunities for prosperity and upward mobility. So working in partnership with Latin American nations, we've helped more than 400,000 poor and disadvantaged children learn to read. We've increased economic opportunity by relieving debt and opening trade, as I mentioned. We've delivered aid that empowers the poor and the marginalized. Since I took office -- with support from the Congress -- the United States has provided nearly $15 billion to the region with a special focus on helping the poor.
True social justice requires government institutions that are fair and effective and free from corruption. You can't have social justice if your government is stealing from you. Since 2001, the United States has doubled our worldwide commitment to programs that foster democracy and good government -- including programs in Latin America. We've entered into the Millennium Challenge Account agreements with six nations in Latin America and the Caribbean -- and a number of other countries are pursuing compacts.
We've worked with countries like El Salvador to train law enforcement officers who can combat criminal gangs. Mexico, we're partnering with the government to stop smugglers who traffic in everything from guns to human beings. Colombia, we've worked closely with President Uribe to defeat the cocaine cartels and narcoterrorists. By the way, it is no coincidence last year that Colombia's economy saw its largest growth in nearly three decades, because that country has got a strong leader willing to take on the FARC.
True social justice requires compassion. And some of the greatest work of compassion in Latin America is being done by the United States military. I don't know if you ever heard of the Navy hospital ship called the Comfort, but it sailed to 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean last year. Doctors treated tens of thousands of poor patients, and conducted more than 26,000 surgeries. Dentists and hygienists filled cavities and cared for infections and treated young children. These men and women are showing that the nations of Latin America have a strong partner in the United States of America. They're a part of our efforts to show that the institutions of freedom and capitalism and democracy are not threats to be feared, but the surest path to social justice there is.
From fostering good governance and reform, to alleviating hunger and disease, to advancing education, prosperity and justice, our new approach to development has shown inspiring signs of success. Yet this success can be reversed, and the cost of abandoning our commitments would be far higher than the cost of fulfilling them. So I urge both parties in Congress to ensure that our development efforts remain an enduring priority of the United States. (Applause.)
I call on other members of the G8 and the United Nations, as well as our fellow contributors to the Global Fund, to follow through on their pledges. (Applause.) Corporations and foundations have shared their resources and expertise with the developing world, and I urge them to continue their generosity. Faith-based groups have done amazing work to heal the sick and lift up the suffering, and I urge them to carry on their missions of mercy.
It's amazing what individual Americans have done to help with the new era of development. I got a Christmas gift from one of my little nephews, which was mosquito nets. Thousands of individuals and schoolchildren all across the country are donating $10 to buy a mosquito net to help save a life. There are people who are raising money for HIV/AIDS initiative. There are people who are going on a service mission with their house of worship. These folks are making a huge contribution, and I urge them to continue their good work.
History shows what happens when America combines our great compassion with our steadfast determination. We are a compassionate people and we are a determined people. During a recent visit, a good friend of mine shared his vivid childhood memories of the Marshall Plan. We were standing on the South Lawn. He said he'll never forget the kindness America showed his nation in a time of need, and now that man is the Prime Minister of Italy. And last week, Silvio Berlusconi expressed his enduring loyalty and gratitude to the people of the United States.
It's not hard to imagine what fruits our compassion will yield 60 years from today. We can see it in the faces of Afghan girls going to school for the first time. We can see them in the proud eyes of Latin American workers providing for themselves and for their families. We see them in the joy of new African mothers whose babies are protected from malaria and HIV. We see them in the outpouring of thanks throughout the developing world. I'm just so sorry that not every American could have been with Laura and me to see what we saw in our trip to Africa last year. Schoolchildren sang songs about America's generosity. One shop-owner, I think who was in Liberia, Madam President, painted his stall in our nation's colors. Tens of thousands of people lined the roadsides during our visit, cheering and waving American flags in gratitude to the American people.
I'm honored to be the President of such a nation filled with people -- filled with people of such generosity and goodness. I'm proud to join with all of you in ushering in a new era of development. This is an historic commitment that we all can be proud of -- one that will secure a bright future for our partners in the developing world, one that will make America a better place. God bless you. (Applause.)
END 1:58 P.M. EDT