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 In Focus

Is there an Asian model of aid emerging?

Published 2001-01-23


Professor Marie Söderberg at the European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics and Stockholm University received a travel grant of 50 000 SEK from the Swedish School of Advanced Asia Pacific Studies (SSAAPS) to seek an answer to this question.

I have for the last two decades devoted a considerable amount of research time to Japanese foreign aid policy. Japan was the largest donor of ODA (Official Development Assistance) during the 1990s and still is one of the largest donors. As the only Asian member of DAC (OECD:s Development Assistance Committee) it is bound by many of the rules in this committee consisting of donors with a Western, Christian background. Still, Japan has always been somewhat of an odd man out in this community of donors. The country has a belief in development through industrialisation and has a concept of aid that is firmly integrated into a wider concept of economic cooperation that also includes other official flows as well as private flows. Japan’s aid has to a much larger extent than other donors consisted of bilateral loans and the building of economic infrastructure in the form of roads, railways, ports and power plants. Recently a number of the former Asian recipients of Japanese aid, have become donors themselves. China, South Korea, Thailand and other Asian states are emerging as donors (some of them with an older tradition in the field).Their way of giving aid, or cooperating with the developing countries, as they prefer to call it, have been mediated by their own experience of development. There are certain features of communality among the Asian donors, such as an emphasis on loan aid and infrastructure.

In this project, which has also been co-sponsored by Sida, the aim was to map the development aid of Japan, South Korea, China and Thailand and see if it is possible to deduct an Asian model of aid which is different from the conventional DAC one. Purpose was also to explore how such an Asian model may constitute a challenge or a complement to western and mainstream international aid.

During 2007 I pursued research on aid in Korea where I was a visiting scholar at the Korean Institute for International Economic Policy in Seoul. I also travelled to China where I made research on Chinese aid in cooperation with Professor He Liping from Beijing Normal University and to Thailand where I was cooperating with Dr. Siriporn Wajjwalku från Thammasat University in Thailand as well as Magnus Andersson a Ph.D Candidate at the European Institute of Japanese Studies. Finally I also went to Japan for extended research on Japanese ODA (Official Development Aid).

So what did I find? Well maybe not one Asian model of aid, but several different Asian models that have some characteristics in common. Asian aid constitutes both a challenge and a compliment to traditional western aid. Besides new Asian donors, Western aid also faces challenges from an increasing number of other emerging donors in a globalised world.

Preliminary results from this research has been presented at two different international workshops in Stockholm and one in Milan. Final results will be presented in the form of a chapter in a book on changing aid paradigms as well as in an edited volume on Asian models of aid.

Marie Söderberg
The European Institute of Japanese Studies,
Stockholm School of Economics, and
Stockholm University

Senast uppdaterad: 08-08-19 11:16

 
 
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