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Speeches and Testimony

OPIC Acting President & CEO David Bohigian

President's Report to the Board

As prepared for delivery

September 11, 2019

Welcome to the September meeting of the OPIC Board of Directors -- the final board meeting of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation before we transform into the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation on October 1.

We’ve been hard at work preparing these eight projects on the agenda for approval, while also advancing outreach around the world, and building the new DFC. We’re immensely appreciative of all the support and feedback our partners have provided over the past several months as we’ve charted this historic path forward. And we’re excited about transforming into a new agency that will have additional resources to elevate poor countries around the world and advance American national security.

DFC will launch at a time of unprecedented need for investment in developing countries and a growing recognition of the value of development finance to build healthy economies. Whenever I travel I am reminded of the critical role OPIC plays promoting U.S. priorities. DFC will build upon that strong foundation.

I’ve recently returned from South America, where I visited Argentina, Colombia, and Paraguay with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Administrator Mark Green and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. We met with business and government leaders and visited some of the projects supported by OPIC’s 2X Women’s Initiative, which is a key pillar of the White House’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative.

In recent months, much of our outreach has focused on collaborating with our allies. Last month, a team from OPIC met with leaders from Australia and Japan to explore ways to collaborate on infrastructure development throughout the Indo-Pacific. And earlier this summer, I met with President Tsai in Taiwan and reaffirmed our commitment to partnering to support development across the Indo-Pacific.

We have a busy agenda today but before we begin I will take a few moments to reflect on the remarkable work of OPIC over almost 50 years.

OPIC was created in 1971, born out of the Marshall Plan, which had successfully mobilized investment to rebuild Europe after World War Two. Many of our early projects helped build critical infrastructure that laid the groundwork for economic growth in emerging economies around the world. But it’s also worth noting that from the start, OPIC pioneered innovative solutions to improve individual lives.

Here’s a picture of a downhill gravity flow system we supported in in Guatemala in the 1970s, bringing running water to a small village. This was at a time long before microfinance was a widely recognized investment tool. But OPIC introduced a Community Credit Guaranty Program to support small community projects, enabling a remote village to obtain a loan, which they repaid through a monthly subscription.

 

And here’s a photo of what may be the world’s first mobile banking service. Decades before developed countries introduced cash machines, this OPIC project in Malawi helped a local bank dispatch a fleet of vehicles to remote parts of the country so that people who had no access to physical banks could open savings accounts.

 

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s as American businesses were forging new business opportunities in emerging markets, OPIC was instrumental in supporting them, from Colgate Palmolive in Egypt to Mack Trucks in Honduras.

 

OPIC changed lives and we also transformed entire economies. Here’s a picture of a grain project we supported in South Korea. Through much of OPIC’s early history, South Korea was the largest country share of our portfolio. But as increased investment led to economic expansion, foreign businesses were eventually able to enter that market without OPIC’s support.

 

OPIC has been instrumental in lending support to national security issues around the world. When the fall of Communism transformed the landscape of Eastern Europe, OPIC quickly responded by supporting projects to rebuild long-neglected infrastructure and modernize industries. This before and after picture of a hotel in Georgia speaks to the value of our work.

 

And, we were always recognized as a valuable tool of American foreign policy. Here are a few images of OPIC leaders meeting with American Presidents over the years. It was during the Reagan Administration that OPIC made good on its promise to pay back the funds that Congress had allocated to start the agency in 1971.

I’m inspired to look back on OPIC’s meaningful, measurable achievements in transforming lives, building healthy economies, stabilizing fragile states, and creating new opportunities for American businesses. OPIC helped the U.S. become a leader in development at a time when investors were just beginning to focus on emerging markets. We are humbled by the opportunity to continue to touch lives and create opportunity through the new DFC. Together with our partners, we can use this new era of greater connectivity to help emerging economies achieve greater prosperity and economic freedom.