Over time, the United States and other wealthy governments have designed and operated institutions and bilateral programs to engage effectively the extreme ends of the global wealth spectrum. From the OECD to the G7, wealthy governments routinely gather to share common concerns and coordinate joint activities. Similarly, the instruments and institutions of foreign assistance have been honed over decades to guide relations between wealthy nations and the least developed countries.
The countries in the middle have reason to believe that their accomplishments have not yet been recognized. Moreover, they perceive that they and the U.S. and other wealthy countries have not yet developed the more mature relationships that would permit them to share challenges and opportunities in ways that each could make their own valued contributions. Many of these countries feel neglected and misunderstood — or feel part of a game played by China, Japan, Russia, the EU and the U.S. Consequently, the U.S. and other wealthy countries have lost part of their competitive advantages. They are often seen as pursuing old agendas, using outdated instrumentalities, and neglecting these middle income countries, except when facing urgent matters such as terrorism. All this is fully represented in the current U.S. administration’s recently proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018. We believe these relationships can be better improved.
This occasional paper aims to draw some initial lessons from past policies and mechanisms intended to enhance relations between advanced and middle income countries. The authors are particularly interested in economic, cultural, and scientific relationships, while understanding that security is a critical issue in many relationships. The latter part of the paper offers some initial recommendations to forge stronger relations between the United States and a growing number of middle income countries that will help to foster better mutual understanding reflected in appropriate policies and programs.