Promoting prosperity: Ten opportunities on economic development for the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office


The essays in this volume have been written by Alberto Lemma, Jodie Keane, Max Mendez-Parra, Judith Tyson, Linda Calabrese and Dirk Willem te Velde.

Dirk Willem te Velde (editor), September 2020


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for International Development (DFID) merged into the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) on 2 September 2020, following an announcement to this effect in June 2020 by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The government outlined the senior leadership in August 2020 but still needs to work out the precise ways in which the departments will be merged.

There has been much attention to the organisational issues around the merger. However, it is more important to consider the intended benefits of the merger in substance terms – which entail bringing foreign affairs and development interests closer together. One area in which the benefits could be large and visible is economic development, yet so far there has been little attention to the role of the FCDO as an economics ministry. This is perhaps surprising, as DFID is rightly proud of its recent experience in managing economic development programmes.

This set of essays considers areas in which the experience the FCO and DFID have gained can be bundled into economic policy under the FCDO. We consider a range of opportunities around aid, trade, investment and finance, focusing on the prosperity agenda, which includes support to job creation and economic transformation. Some ideas are new opportunities; some are enhancements of previous policies.

Photo:  Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the opening of the UK-Africa Invesment summit in London, January 2020. DFID/ Michael Hughes. Licence: (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)