OPIC Sharpens Its Business Assistance Mission

By John S. McClenahen Following President Bush's budget directive to downsize, the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC), a small and relatively obscure federal agency that helps U.S. businesses reduce the risks of investing in developing countries, is refocusing its efforts. The net effect is likely to be a streamlined agency that more carefully selects the economic-development projects that it supports in the world's poorer countries and in nations making the transition from non-market to market economies. Vowing that OPIC's assistance programs complement and not compete with the private sector, Peter S. Watson, the agency's president and CEO, nevertheless wants to "explore new and creative ways in which OPIC could add more value to private-sector insurance and financing activities in developing and transition economies, including the greater use of coinsurance and cofinancing arrangements and the provision of unbundled, fee-based services."

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