Korea plans to increase foreign aid to Asia, Africa

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Korea plans to increase foreign aid to Asia, Africa

Korea will focus three-quarters of its bilateral international aid allotment to Asia and Africa, the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday.

The Prime Minister’s Office, which announced new guidelines covering the country’s official development assistance, said Asia will receive 55 percent of funds set aside for bilateral aid, while Africa will receive 20 percent. The remaining funds will be allocated to Latin America, the Middle East and former Soviet states, among other places, it said.

The plan will go into effect next year and remain in place until 2015. A detailed plan will be drafted within the year.

This is the first time the country has established ODA guidelines by region.

Thus far, Korea has provided development assistance through multiple state agencies including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, which critics say has resulted in inefficiencies.

To address the problem, the government put the Prime Minister’s Office in control of the aid program in January.

“Providing practical support to developing countries and doing so with modesty is more important than anything else [in the ODA program],” Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said. “The new guideline will ensure that Korea becomes an exemplary contributing country.”

Korea quadrupled its foreign aid contribution from $212.1 million in 2000 to $816 million last year. Its ODA-to-Gross National Income ratio was 0.10 percent last year, and the government expects that to rise to 0.13 percent this year.

The new guideline requires that the government’s bilateral aid allotment be kept at 70 percent of the ODA total.

Until now, Korea has focused its multinational aid program on loans through organizations such as the World Bank, but it will now increase its contribution through international organizations such as the UN, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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