WASHINGTON – Former officials from the World Bank, the U.S. Treasury Department and other agencies argued Friday that the Trump administration should work with international financial institutions rather than backing away if the United States expects to find solutions to the problems of refugees and immigration.

Their comments on American involvement in foreign affairs come amid fears that the Trump administration could scale back U.S. support for multilateral institutions. One expert also said that there is concern based on rumors that the United States will cut its budget for cooperation with agencies such as the World Bank and the InterAmerican Development Bank.

“The World Bank and the [multilateral development banks]provide not only financing, but they provide a package of solutions and platforms,” said Pamela Cox, former senior vice president at the World Bank, at a meeting at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Cox said U.S. financing of MDBs provides support for educating young girls, addressing the impact of climate change and combatting corruption. “It’s about solving a problem, not just putting money into a country,” she said.

With President Donald Trump pledging to reissue an executive order about immigration to the United States, the experts said the role of the multilateral institutions will be increasingly critical in finding solutions to questions of refugees and immigration around the world.

Clay Lowery, former assistant treasury secretary for international affairs in the Obama administration, said the multilateral development banks provide long-term support to countries such as Turkey and Jordan, which are on the front line for receiving refugees.

“If you want to solve the refugee crisis, you do it first in the countries where refugees are coming from, and second, in your countries,” he said.

Despite the concerns, the officials said the Trump administration has not indicated any specific changes in policies related to these multilateral organizations. Meanwhile, one key position, undersecretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department, has not yet been filled. David Malpass, a former Bear Stearns economist, is reported to be Trump’s nominee to the position.


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