The U.S. Foreign Policy Tool That Keeps on Giving

December 19, 2014 By Ashley E. (Chandler) Chang

Amid this holiday season, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation has given us more than 350 million new reasons to be merry. OPIC’s just-released annual figures show that it generated $358 million for American taxpayers last year. Talk about a stocking stuffer! This marks the 37th consecutive year the agency has helped reduce the Federal budget deficit – while working to build a better, safer world.

For more than four decades, this small government agency has mobilized private capital to help U.S. companies – large and small – enter and compete in foreign markets while solving critical global challenges. This includes laying the groundwork for companies working to increase access to electricity, promote food security, and provide financial services.

OPIC’s work to promote economic development extends to some of the world’s most challenging markets, including countries within Africa, which make up over a quarter of OPIC’s 2014 commitments. The agency anticipates that these commitments will spur an additional $3.2 billion in private-sector investments, making OPIC a valuable foreign and economic policy tool.

“OPIC’s trajectory is a testament to the powerful and growing role of the private sector in international development,” said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield.


Through a series of OPIC loans, Maryland-based American Wool & Cashmere created a system for goods produced in western Afghanistan to reach a processing facility in Belgium for export and distribution worldwide. Herat’s cashmere industry now employs more than 1,500 women and older men who would otherwise have difficulty finding work.

With a self-sustaining model that bridges the gap when private sector funding is unavailable, this agency is helping to facilitate business investment overseas that leads to sustainable economic growth and job creation in developing countries and back home in the United States. Since economies of developing countries are growing faster than those of more traditional trading partners, the success of America’s private sector is increasingly dependent on expanding into new markets and reaching new customers.

OPIC’s mission is to do both. And it’s working.

By providing U.S. companies with financing, guarantees, and political risk insurance services – only when private sector funding is unavailable – in more than 150 countries, OPIC has catalyzed more than $200 billion of investment and nearly $77 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 278,000 American jobs to date. And because it charges fees for its services, it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.

I’ll raise a glass of eggnog to that!