Strategy ahead of money for overseas aid
Since last year, the size of Korea’s official development assistance (ODA) has been more than 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) annually. When Korea became a member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee in 2010, we pledged to expand the size of our ODA to 0.25 percent of gross national income by 2015. However, it still remains around 0.15 percent. This year, the size of Korea’s ODA was increased by 11 percent compared to last year, but it is still far from what we promised to the international community. Considering the tight budget, 2 trillion won in ODA is not very easy. Korea has only begun to provide aid to other countries, and the size is still not big. However, China and Japan are competitively offering assistance, and Korea’s presence is hardly noticeable.
Then what should Korea do? From the perspectives of the aid recipients, Korea should not be a mere donor country but a partner pulling up the hopes for the future. Therefore, the Innovation Sharing Program has been proposed. When agriculture and light industry were the only industrial bases in the 1960s, Korea established the Korea Institute of Science and Technology and prepared the foundation to become a highly industrialized nation. Also, we have the experience of succeeding through constant innovation in every stage. Korea can do better than any other nation when it comes to sharing industrial technology and innovative capacity. It is also a differentiated approach from other new donors, such as China, which hopes to maximize its interests by simply providing aid.
We have more to share than engineering technologies. We can also utilize the Korean-style aid model. We can select the businesses related to innovation among the programs we excel at. Moreover, Korea needs to contemplate over our choices of development cooperation and strategy in order to leave a strong and extensive impression on the international community.
by Shim Young-seop, Senior researcher at Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade