By Sarah Fortinsky
July 25, 2023
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) arrives for the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.
A group of bipartisan senators introduced legislation Tuesday to require the U.S. Treasury to increase transparency on China’s activity at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
In the press release, the senators described the IDB as “the most important development institution in the Western Hemisphere” and criticized the institution for awarding a disproportionate number of contracts to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), when it owns less than 0.1 percent of the shares at the IDB.
“Since joining the IDB in 2009, the PRC has consistently used its participation at the bank to advance its national interests and influence in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the press release read, noting that the PRC has been among the top countries awarded contracts by the IDB in the last few years, including ranking first in 2019.
The IDB Transparency Act would require a public report from Treasury every two years that lists all the PRC-funded projects, how the IDB has benefited from PRC entities, and all projects the PRC is involved in. The report would inquire about PRC tech that is subject to U.S. export controls in IDB projects. And the report would require an action plan for the U.S. to reduce PRC’s influence at the IDB, according to the press release.
The second part of the bill would call on the United States to use its influence at the IDB to curb the PRC’s influence at the IDB, to block any additional shares from being sold to the IDB, to vote against PRC-funded projects “that threaten national interests” and to push for greater transparency.
“As the People’s Republic of China continues to use economic tools to advance its coercive economic agenda across the Western Hemisphere, it’s more important than ever that we protect the integrity of the IDB and ensure its critical work can continue unhampered by Beijing’s interference,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said in the release.
“By strengthening transparency at the IDB and denying support to projects that undermine U.S. national interests or those of our partners, this important bipartisan legislation will bolster our commitment to the IDB while assuring the global community that we’re combatting efforts to exploit multilateral institutions,” Menendez added.
“The economic security of the Western Hemisphere is inextricably linked to the economic security of the United States, and it is vital that the United States work to counter the CCP’s efforts to gain a strategic foothold through investments in critical resources and infrastructure,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) said in the press release.
“The U.S. is the IDB’s largest shareholder, but the PRC has leveraged the IDB to enhance its growing, nefarious influence in Latin America. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will help put an end to the CCP’s attempts to use the IDB to advance its goals in Latin America.”
The bill was introduced by Menendez, Hagerty, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and reflects the growing sentiment in Congress to take action to curb China’s global influence.