MULTILATERAL DEVELOPMENT BANKS: PROCEDURES FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Multilateral Development Banks:
Procedures for U.S. Participation
Jonathan E. Sanford
Analyst in International Political Economy
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
The United States is a member of seven multilateral development institutions. This
report discusses the process for U.S. involvement in each. The U.S. Treasury
Department manages US. participation, in consultation with other agencies. Congress
has a major role in the formulation of U.S. policy, though this differs in several important
respects from the role it exercises over U.S. agencies. This report will be updated
The United States is a member of five multilateral development banks (MDBs) and
two similar agencies. The World Bank is the largest MDB. It lends to developing
countries in all parts of the world. Four regional banks lend to developing countries in
their particular areas. These include the Asian Development Bank (ADB), African
Development Bank (AFDF), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(EBRD) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The other two agencies are the
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the North American
Development Bank (NADB). IFAD lends, mainly to the poorest developing countries, to
fund projects aimed at the alleviation of poverty and increased agricultural production.
The NADB is a joint U.S.-Mexican agency, created as part of the NAFTA agreement,
which helps fund environmental projects in the border region and provides community
adjustment assistance for areas adversely affected by NAFTA.
CRS Issue Brief IB96008, Multilateral Development Banks: Issues for the 107th
Congress, discusses several prominent issues as well as current congressional action vis-a-
vis the MDBs. This report discusses how the United States manages its participation in
these international agencies. A companion paper, CRS Report RS20793, Multilateral
Development Banks: Basic Background, provides information about their organizational
structure and operations. Another, CRS Report RS20792, shows how much the United
States has contributed annually to each multilateral agency.
Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress
U.S. Participation in the MDBs
With the advice and consent of the Senate, the President names individuals to
represent the United States on the executive boards of each MDB. Though formally the
U.S. executive directors (USEDs) occupy high positions in the MDBs (paid by the banks),
they also function as the eyes, ears, and voices of the United States within those
organizations. Under the MDBs’ Articles of Agreement, MDB executive directors have
fixed terms of service, generally three to five years. Nevertheless, as a practical matter,
the USEDs serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States. The President has
the ultimate authority under U.S. law to direct U.S. policy and instruct the U.S.
representatives at the MDBs, but delegates this responsibility to the Secretary of the
Treasury. The Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs manages U.S.
participation with the help of a professional staff of 20 individuals. The Secretary serves
as the U.S. Governor (member of the governing board) at each MDB. Until recently, U.S.
participation in IFAD was managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID). In 1999, USAID transferred it to Treasury.
Other agencies are also involved in the formation of U.S. policy towards MDBs.
The Working Group on Multilateral Assistance (WGMA) is the main forum for
coordinating agency views. It reviews each loan proposal during the 2 weeks before
action is scheduled by an MDB executive board to see whether the loan complies with
U.S. policy and law. Based on these interagency discussions, instructions are drafted by
the Treasury and sent to the U.S. Executive Directors specifying the points they should
raise and the way they should vote on each MDB loan or policy proposal. Participants
include representatives from the Treasury, State, Agriculture, and Commerce
Departments, USAID, Federal Reserve Board (Fed), and Export-Import Bank
The United States has substantial influence within the MDBs. In most cases, it is the
largest single contributor and it has the largest vote. However, no country has a veto and
a majority vote of an MDB’s executive board is needed before it can approve a loan or
adopt a new policy or operating procedure. In most of MDBs, the United States and the
other major industrial countries have a near majority of the vote. In the World Bank
Group and in the EBRD, this rises to a clear majority. In other regional MDBs, the
borrower countries have a small voting majority. The G-7 and other industrial countries
still have major influence, however, as the regional banks need the financial support of the
industrial countries to underwrite their operations. The MDBs cannot assess their member
countries or require contributions without their consent.
The United States and other major countries can be outvoted on particular issues, if
their views are substantially different from those of most other advanced industrial
countries. Consequently, from time to time, the MDBs have approved loans to countries
which are in foreign policy disfavor with the United States. Likewise, in cases where the
United States is required by law (see Table 1) to oppose particular loans, other major
countries may decide not to follow the U.S. example. They may have different views as
to how difficult situations should be handled. Nevertheless, in most instances, the MDBs
make their decisions about loans or policies without formal reference to country voting
shares. Everyone knows which countries have the largest votes. Generally, decisions on
the MDB executive boards are made on a consensual basis. This helps diminish any
overt clash of interest between the donor and borrower countries. It also helps promote
a climate of collegiality and participation, a sense by borrowers that their views have
received due consideration in the formulation of MDB policy.
Congress and the MDBs
Congress has a major role in the formation of U.S. policy towards the MDBs, though
less direct influence than it has over U.S. Government programs. For instance, it cannot
earmark funds or direct the MDBs to approve or disapprove loans for certain countries
or purposes. However, unless it authorizes U.S. involvement and appropriates funds, the
United States cannot make new contributions. Congress can also pass legislation
controlling what U.S. policy in the MDBs shall be. Congress has enacted a large body of
law governing U.S. policy towards the MDBs. Some laws control the U.S. “voice and
vote.” These may direct the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the USEDs to advocate
certain policies or seek particular action by the MDBs. For instance, Congress has adopted
numerous laws requiring the Administration to seek specified improvements in the banks’
treatment of environmental issues. Other provisions may require the Secretary to instruct
USEDs to oppose or vote against MDB loans for certain kinds of activities or for certain
types of countries. For example, the USEDs must vote against loans to countries which
fail to cooperate in suppressing illegal drug trafficking or commit gross violations of
human rights. The 1989 Pelosi Amendment (International Financial Institutions Act
§1307) persuaded the IFIs to adopt new procedures making their documents and
operations more transparent to the public.1 An illustrative list of these “voice and vote”
requirements is shown in Table 1.2 Not all the directives enacted in the past several
decades are shown.
Congress has also used the “power of the purse” on occasion to promote change
within the MDBs. Generally, these laws specify that some or all of the money
appropriated will be available for contribution to an MDB only if the Secretary of the
Treasury certifies that it has taken (or ceased taking) certain specified actions or it has
adopted particular policy norms. For example, in the mid-1990s, some U.S. contributions
to the IDB were withheld pending action by the IDB to require all borrowers to stop
discriminating against procurement bids from potential suppliers in the United States and
other countries. In 2000, Congress said that some of the U.S. payment to IDA must be
withheld until the Secretary tells the World Bank that future IDA aid to Heavily Indebted
Poor Countries (HIPC) getting debt relief should be grant aid. An illustrative list of these
“power of the purse” directives is shown in Table 2. Again, it does not include all such
1 For a discussion, see CRS Report 98-180, Multilateral Development Banks’ Environmental
Assessment and Information Policies: Impact of the Pelosi Amendment, February 12, 1998.
2 In Tables 1 and 2, the following abbreviations are used. International Financial Institutions Act
of 1977(IFIA); Bretton Woods Agreements Act (BWAA); Inter-American Development Bank Act
(IDBA); International Development Association Act (IDAA); Multilateral Investment Guarantee
Agency Act (MIGAA); Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, 1987 (FO87); Foreign Operations
Appropriations Act, 1988 (FO88); Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, 1989 (FO89); Foreign
Operations Appropriations Act, 1990 (FO90); Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, 1992
(FO92), Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, 1993 (FO93); Foreign Operations Appropriations
Act, 2001 (FO2001); Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA).
measures that Congress has enacted. Many of these one-year provisions have been
renewed annually. The table generally shows the first year of enactment.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Committee on Financial
Services have jurisdiction over MDB authorization legislation, while the House and Senate
Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittees handle MDB appropriations. The
House International Relations Committee has authorizing jurisdiction for IFAD.
MDB funding plans are, in effect, multi-year international agreements. Generally, the
United States plays a major role in their negotiations. Major changes in MDB policy or
procedure are often embodied in these plans. Most analysts believe that relations with
allies and other major donor countries might be seriously strained if the United States fails
to ratify the agreements (through passage of the appropriate legislation) once they have
been negotiated. The MDB program has been quite controversial. Many leading Members
of Congress have thought that prospective MDB legislation might be defeated if it was
brought out of committee by regular order. Thus, during the past 20 years, much of the
debate about U.S. policy in the MDBs has occurred behind the scenes. All but one of the
MDB authorizing measures enacted during this period were passed as riders to the annual
foreign operations appropriation bills. The House and Senate have frequently made major
cuts in MDB funding. Often, funds have been restored following negotiations between
the House and Senate conferees or strong requests by the President.
U.S. contributions to the MDBs is funded through the International Affairs (Function
150) portion of the Federal budget. This also includes the operating expenses and
program costs for the foreign affairs agencies, U.S. foreign economic and military aid,
participation in international organizations, and export promotion programs. In fiscal
2000, total International Affairs expenditures of the U.S. Government comprised about
4% of all Federal discretionary spending. Budget authority to fund U.S. participation in
MDBs amounted to about 5.5% of the Function 150 total.3
In the Bretton Woods Agreements Act (1945), which authorized U.S. participation
in the IMF and World Bank, Congress required the Administration to submit an annual
report on the operations and policies of the international financial institutions (IFIs.) It
was to be prepared by an interagency body called the National Advisory Council on
International Monetary and Financial Policies. Over time, Congress expanded greatly the
number of issues to be discussed in the NAC report. Successive Administration have had
difficulty preparing these reports while also managing U.S. policy in the IFIs. The last,
for FY1992, was submitted in 1996. In 1998, Congress simplified the reporting
requirement, dropping many of the detailed reports that were previously mandated. The
Administration said at the time that this would enable it to present more timely and useful
reports to Congress, but no subsequent NAC reports have been submitted.
3 For a discussion of the budget and appropriations process, see the following two reports by Larry
Nowels: CRS Report RL30515, International Affairs Budget Trends, FY1980-FY2000, September
29, 2000, and CRS Report RL30511, Appropriations for FY2001: Foreign Operations, Export
Financing, and Related Programs, October 26, 2000.
Table 1: Legislation Directing the U.S. “Voice and Vote” in MDBs
United States Shall Seek (Use Voice):
More attention to environmental issues, to meeting benchmarks adoptedFO88 §537, IFIA
by Congress for sustainable energy, forest conservation, forced§1301-2, 1305-7, FO92
displacement of people, and environmental impact assessments.§533, FO93 §532
More emphasis on renewable energy, biodiversity, conservation, debt-BWAA §49, FO87
for-conservation swaps, more emphasis on energy conservation in the§539, FO89 §535
design and implementation of projects.
Adoption of rules limiting adjustment lending to 25% of an MDB’sFO89 §555, FO88
annual lending and 50% of a 3 year average for any one country, studies§537, IFIA §1501,
on effects of adjustment lending on environment, public health, poverty,1601, 1611
standards to limit negative impact on the poor.
International standards for meeting basic human needs and protectingIFIA §701, 703, 705,
human rights, establishing human rights standards for MDB loans.FO79 §611.
More assistance from MDBs for basic human needs.
More MDB emphasis on rural growth, poverty alleviation, cropIFIA §1402
diversification away from monoculture to sustainable crop systems.
Adoption of autonomous post-hoc project evaluation procedures.IDBA §14, FAA §301
More effort to promote integration of women into national economies ofIFIA §1501, 1604,
borrower countries and into staff of MDBs.FAA §305
More participation by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) inIFIA §1306, 1602,
project planning, implementation, and assessment and more cooperation1613, FO90 §594
on environmental issues. More staff assigned to borrower countries and
more staff coordinating directly with NGOs. Expansion of IMF
emphasis on environment, public health, poverty and sustainable
management of natural resources in staff work and loans.
Standards promoting MDB consultation with and protection of rights ofIFIA § 1605
indigenous peoples during project preparation and implementation.
Stop MDBs from lending for projects producing goods or commoditiesIFIA §901, 1403,
in oversupply in world markets if this would hurt U.S. producers FO79 §610
Guidelines in MIGA barring investment guarantees in countries that doMIGAA §22
not recognize internationally recognized labor rights or require investors
to take steps likely to cost U.S. jobs or trade benefits.
Creation of international debt facility to reduce external debt of heavilyOmnibus Trade &
indebted low-income countries owed to private and public creditors.Competitiveness Act of
World Bank should help finance debt reduction. Get voluntary debt1988 § 3111-3, FO89
reduction plans that preserve viable economic reform.§555, IFIA §1608
Use of MDB programs to reduce obstacles to international trade andBWAA §49
investment and discourage unfair trade and investment practices.
Adoption of specific reforms in World Bank and IMF to prevent orFO2001 §801, 804
reduce corruption in borrower countries and among their staff.
Agreement that one-third of MIF funds shall be used for human resourceFO93 Title I
development and that only democratic countries which do not commit
human rights violations or tolerate drug trafficking or terrorism may
receive MIF assistance.
The United States Vote shall be Cast (Vote):
Vote “no” to any loans to countries that expropriate U.S.-ownedIDBA §15, 21-22,
investments without adequate compensation or fail to take adequateIDAA §12-13, ADBA
steps to prevent the entry of illegal drugs into the U.S. §18-19, AFDBA §210
Oppose lending to any country that is a major producer or transit site forAnti-Drug Abuse Act
illegal drugs unless it cooperates with U.S. in suppression of traffic inof 1988 §4407; FO89
same–especially Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.§578
Oppose all loans to countries evidencing a pattern of human rightsIFIA §701, FO88 §551
violations or giving refuge to aircraft hijackers (unless the loan meetsand 575, FO89 §564,
basic human needs). Oppose lending to Chile, Panama, and YugoslaviaFO90 §599
until they have democratic civilian governments and cease human rights
violations and lending to any country on Sec. of State’s terrorism list.
Oppose loans for any projects producing palm oil, sugar, citrus, copper,IFIA §1403, FO78
or other metals for export if this would have a negative impact on U.S.§609, Supplemental
producers. Oppose projects producing goods that will be subsidized inAppropriations Act,
violation of GATT (WTO) rules if U.S. producers would be hurt.1985 §502
Oppose any MIGA guarantees to countries not recognizingMIGA §290
internationally recognized labor rights or imposing conditions likely to
cost U.S. jobs.
Oppose any MDB loans for projects that would impact the environmentIFIA §1307
unless the MDBs require environmental impact assessments whose
results are available to the U.S. Government and the public at least 120
days in advance of consideration by the MDB executive board.
Oppose any MIF aid going to countries with non-democraticFO93 Title I
governments or if the MIF does not set aside 1/3 of its funds for human
Vote against any loans to countries that discriminate on procurement.FO90 Title I
Table 2: Legislation Using the “Power of the Purse” on MDBs
Fiscal 1990 contributions to the IDB shall be withheld until the IDBFO90 Title I, FO98
adopts policies to ensure that borrowers do not discriminate againstTitle IV
certain countries in procurement policies. No contributions to IDA for
fiscal 1998 will be available until procurement restrictions on the
Interim Trust Fund have been lifted
U.S. cannot contribute to any IFI if the USED cannot get information onFO79 §605, FO80
the names and amounts of loans to staff and on staff salaries or access to§521, FO91 § 578
documents held by or created by the IFI or where the US representatives
are paid more than levels IV and V of the U.S. executive schedule.
The fiscal 1993 contribution to the GEF will be available only if itFO93 Title I
establishes procedures for public access to documents, for consultation
with affected people in recipient countries, and contributor country and
NGO oversight of project implementation.
The fiscal 2001 contribution to IDA will be available only if the Sec. ofFO2001 Title I
the Treasury urges that all future IDA aid to HIPC countries be grant
No contribution can be made to MIGA in fiscal 1998 if it fails to adoptFO88 Title I
U.S. proposed standards on workers rights and limits on projects that
would produce output competing with U.S. production.